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Which word is more appropriate? And why?

Success is not something that just happens by _.
A. accident
B. chance

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You're missing a word between "something" and "just", and since you do it twice I assume it's a "real" mistake rather than a typo. If you're writing for British English speakers, insert "which"; if writing for American English speakers, insert "that". –  Peter Taylor Jun 9 '11 at 8:34
    
@ peter: you are right. It's a mistake. I corrected it. Thank you. –  czh Jun 9 '11 at 9:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You could say either. Both chance and accident describe random events. It's true that accident also can carry the additional meaning of misfortune, but that is not its only meaning. Good things can happen purely by accident as well.

accident .. 2 an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause : the pregnancy was an accident | it is no accident that my tale features a tragic romance. • the working of fortune; chance : my faith is an accident of birth, not a matter of principled commitment | he came to Harvard largely through accident

All right, now consider this: You can use either accident or chance in your statement, but that will not make it true. People can become successful through an accident of birth; in fact, starting life rich is one way to be rich later on.

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in the most oriental religious thinking, a birth with special condition, bad or good, is not an accident, but the result of the person's previous life. –  czh Jun 10 '11 at 3:47

I would say B: Chance.

Accident has a negative connotation of an unintentional, unfortunate incident happening, whereas chance would refer to luck.

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I found below definition and example sentences using dictionary.cambridge.org -------------- by accident without intending to, or without being intended I deleted the file by accident. I found her letter by accident as I was looking through my files -------------- The first example may be suggesting negative connotation, but second is neutral in my sense. Though I am not a native speaker and I am not quite sure about my English sense. Further explanation is appreciated . –  czh Jun 9 '11 at 8:43
    
This is not true. Accident can be a synonym of chance (see my answer here) and you can have bad luck as well as good. –  Robusto Jun 9 '11 at 10:03

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