-ence, -ance

You have letters - now what do you do with them?
Perry Lassiter
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-ence, -ance

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:18 pm

Does anyone have a smidgin of a clue for a rule of when to use A and when E in the above suffixes or their kin -ent, -ant? The only rule I know is to pay attention to the spell checker. "Existence" doesn't seem correct, but it must be...
pl

bnjtokyo

Re: -ence, -ance

Postby bnjtokyo » Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:06 am

Not a lot of help but I found the following note in the Online Etymology Dictionary that USED TO BE readily accessible by clicking on "Dictionaries >> Specialty Glossaries" But that now results in the dreaded "404 Document Not Found" Argh! Please, Dr. Goodword, can we get those links back?


"-ance
word-forming element attached to verbs to form abstract nouns of process or fact (convergence from converge), or of state or quality (absence from absent); ultimately from Latin -antia and -entia, which depended on the vowel in the stem word, from PIE *-nt-, adjectival suffix.

As Old French evolved from Latin, these were leveled to -ance, but later French borrowings from Latin (some of them subsequently passed to English) used the appropriate Latin form of the ending, as did words borrowed by English directly from Latin (diligence, absence).

English thus inherited a confused mass of words from French and further confused it since c. 1500 by restoring -ence selectively in some forms of these words to conform with Latin. Thus dependant, but independence, etc."

So it looks hopeless for a simple rule although maybe if we knew more about the Latin rule relating the stem vowel to the -antia and -entia suffixes we might have a clue.

Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 3264
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA
Contact:

Re: -ence, -ance

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:04 pm

Fortunately I lived to see the day of the spell-checker, rely on it, and hope it is correct. Besides, ifit's wrong, who would know?
pl


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