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13.24: More About -ance and -ence

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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More About -ance and -ence

1. You have seen two patterns that can help you know when to choose -ence rather than -ance.

a. Stems that can form adjectives ending in [enshəl] spelled <ential> will form nouns with -ence, as in confidential and confidence.

b. Bound stems that form nouns ending in [əns] usually take -ence, as in patience.

It would be easy if we could just say that everyplace else you should choose -ance. Alas, it is more complicated than that, though there are some things we can say that can directly help you know when to use -ance.

But nouns that end in either -ence or -ance very often have a partner word, an adjective that ends in either -ent or -ant. For instance, the noun confidence has the partner adjective confident. And if a noun ends in -ence and has such a partner adjective, the adjective will aways have -ent. If a noun ends in -ance and has such a partner adjective, the adjective will be have -ant.

This does not directly help us choose between -ance and -ence, but sometimes we can remember how to spell the adjective but not the noun, or vice versa, so it can help to remember that -ance goes with -ant while -ence goes with -ent.

2. Fill in the blanks. Some of the adjectives can also be used as nouns:

Noun Adjective
assistance assistant
confidence confident
difference different
attendance attendant
consequence consquent
existence existent
defiance defiant
convenience convenient
evidence evident
resistance resistant
independence independent
violence violent
ignorance ignorant
innocence innocent
silence silent
reference referent
importance important
intelligence intelligent
obedience obedient
patience patient
residence resident
presence present

Teaching Notes.

The OED tells the tangled tale of -ance and -ence in two tight paragraphs, at -ance and -ence.

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