What would be the right choice in this context? Until it occurred to me or happened to me?

  • 2
    What context? They mean different things. Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 10:04

2 Answers 2


It's true that occur and happen are more or less synonymous, but in English there is an idiom occur to someone, which has a different meaning, and would get in the way of understanding it as happen to someone.

"An accident occurred to me" unambiguously means "I had the idea of an accident", or "I suddenly thought about an accident".I don't think any native English speaker would understand it to mean "I had an accident" on first hearing,they would probably come to that meaning after rejecting the other possibilities.

  • Thank you, sir.
    – Toma
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 1:13

"To occur" has also meanings different from "to take place", which is shared with "to happen".

When this happens :-) they are not interchangeable.

For instance, in the construction "to occur to ...", when it means "to come to mind", as in:

It occurred to me that I forgot my umbrella at the store.

(Another meaning of "to occur" is also "to appear", "to be found to exist".)


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