The past tense of to occur is occurred (not occured), but the past tense of to listen is listened (not listenned).
Why? What is the general rule that is applied to make the past tense of a verb?
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
Occur has its stress on the final syllable (o-CUR) but listen (LIS-en) has its stress on the first syllable. If the verb ends in the pattern consonant-vowel-consonant, the final consonant is doubled in the case of verbs like refer and occur and begin where the stress is on the final syllable (referrer, referring, referred, occurrence, occurred, beginning), or one syllable words (big -> bigger, sin -> sinner) but not in the case of verbs like listen or broker (listened, listener, brokered, etc.), where the stress is non-final.
I guess it's to retain pronunciation. If you don't double the ending consonant, it will be ok-cured (occured) instead of occur-ed (occurred), buy-ger (biger) instead of big-er (bigger), bay-red (bared) instead of bar-ed (barred), etc.
Seems intuitive and natural to me, though I can't confirm. If I'm right, the general rule would be not to double unless pronunciation changes.
I think it is due to the consonant letter (r) which comes at the end of the word occur. Based on what I studied, if the word ends with a consonant letter and before it comes a vowel letter, we should double the end letter in the past tense such as occurred, whereas in the word listen we shoudn't double the last letter because this is an irregular case. If the word has a primary stress on the left part, we should double the last letter: for example occur the primary stress occurs in the left part of the word (oc'cur) whereas in the word listen the premary stress occurs in the right part of the word (listen') so we shoudn't double the last letter.