I need to know how a native speaker would fill in the blanks using the proper choice from among my provided items: "take place", "happen" and "occur"?

Please let me know about my take on each sentence. Also I have no reason why I think so. That's just an intuition. Regardless of weather I'm right or wrong on my selected items for each sentence, please let me know about the reason behind each priority over another choice in each separated sentence.

  1. She wanted their wedding to .................. quickly. [here all three options are plausible for me].
  2. The Olympics .................... every four years. [here I think only "c" works].
  3. If any of these symptoms ................... while you are taking the medication, consult your doctor immediately. [here only "b" works for me.].

a) happen {anything that happens}
b) occur {to happen especially unexpectedly}
c) take place {to happen}

  • 1
    All three work in all three sentences, although in the third you'd have a repetition of "take" which I consider poor writing style. I suppose that means the three are pretty much synonymous.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 21:18
  • It's "whether I'm right" not "weather I'm right"
    – Katy
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


Each choice is grammatical in each sentence. The specific choice is a matter of style and desired emphasis and shade of meaning, not of grammar.

In 1, I think c) "take place" might be the most common choice, and "occur" the least common. Because a wedding is planned, and "occur" is more often used with things that happen but are not planned.

In 2 one might as well flip a three-sided coin -- there is really no favored choice. My previous argument about "occur" would suggest that it should not be used, but in fact it is used, specifically for the Olympics, with some frequency. Perhaps my argument was not as strong as I thought.

In 3 I think b) "Occur" will be far more likely, as it seems to me to have the proper medical flavor. and such symptoms are definitely unplanned. But s0 happen could surely be used.

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