Apparent - appear - appearance

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Although the spelling and the pronunciation vary, these three words are all related.

  • The root word is the verb 'to appear'. This has a 'long' '-EE-' sound for the second vowel, which is the one stressed: 'er-PEER', IPA: /ə ˈpiːr/. (It does NOT rhyme with pear.) This is an intransitive verb with a number of different uses. It may mean:
    • 'to come into sight or view' - in this sense something may appear, but no-one can appear something; or
    • 'to seem or look' - in this use 'appear' may be followed by either an adjective ('He appeared tired') or an infinitive ('She appeared not to understand what I was saying'); or
    • 'to become clear or evident' - in this use 'appear' may be followed by a 'that' clause ('It appeared that he had a criminal record').
  • The verb 'to appear' gives rise to the abstract noun appearance, 'an act or instance of coming into sight' or 'the way something looks'. Note that the suffix has an '-a-'. It is pronounced in the same way as appear, that is with a long '-ee-' vowel in the second syllable: 'er-PEER-'ns', IPA: /ə ˈpiːr əns/.
  • The adjective derived from 'to appear' however is neither spelled nor pronounced like it. Apparent, which means 'appearing', 'that which presents itself to the observer as easy to see' or sometimes 'obvious', has no '-e-' in the second syllable, which is pronounced with the same vowel as that in 'cat' or 'that', IPA: /ə ˈpær ənt/.