'-er - -ence' (spelling)

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There is a pattern where verbs which end with a stressed '-er' form nouns ending with '-erence' where the stress has moved to the first syllable, with concomitant changes in the realization of the first '-e-'. This group contains the following examples:

  • 'confer' (con-FUR, IPA: /kən 'fɜːr/) > 'conference' (CON-fur-ence, /'kɒn fə rəns/)
  • 'defer' (de-FUR, IPA: /dɪ 'fɜːr/) > 'deference' (DEAF-fur-ence, /'dɛ fə rəns/)
  • 'infer' (in-FUR, IPA: /ɪn 'fɜːr/) > 'inference' (IN-fur-ence, /'ɪn fə rəns/)
  • 'prefer' (pre-FUR, IPA: /prɪ 'fɜːr/) > 'preference' (PREFF-ur-ence, /'prɛ fə rəns/) - see also Prefer- - preferr-
  • 'refer' (re-FUR, IPA: /rɪ 'fɜːr/) > 'reference' (REF-fur-ence, /'rɛ fə rəns/)
  • 'transfer' (trans-FUR, IPA: /træns 'fɜːr/) > 'transference' (TRANS-fur-ence, /'træns fə rəns/)


- but note verbs ending in '-fer' that do not shift their stress, like:
'differ' (DIFF-ur, IPA: /'dɪ fər/) > 'difference' (DI-fur-ence, /'dɪ fə rəns/)
and ones with the homophonous -ance rather than -ence:
suffer (SUFF-er, IPA: /'sʌ fər/) > 'suff[e]rance' (SUFF-ur-ence, /'sʌ f[ə] rəns/)