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Chance Occasion Opportunity and Possibility

Business is often all about getting a chance or having the opportunity to succeed. Sometimes, on occasions you are given the possibility of meeting some really wonderful people and make great connections.

As you can see, the words, chance, occasion, opportunity and possibility are very commonly used and are often central to the whole concept of business. We seize opportunities and we take a chance in order to become successful.

Unfortunately, these 4 words can sometimes lead to confusion. They are all very similar in meaning and for some language learners they can be confusing to use correctly.

With that being said, today I am going to show you the difference in meaning, and then help you by showing you how they can collocate with other words.

If you haven’t already, grab a pen and get ready to take some notes as I am sure you are going to find today’s episode extremely useful.


Meaning: a particular time when something happens.

Example: My sister’s wedding was a very special occasion.


Adjectives: formal, historic, memorable, rare, solemn, special, unique

Verbs: mark an occasion, rise to the occasion

Use: on one occasion, the occasion when + clause

Watch the episode here


Meaning: a situation in which it is possible to do something you want to do

Example: I’m going to work in Hong Kong for a year. It’s a great opportunity.


Adjectives: equal, excellent, golden, perfect, tremendous, welcome

Verbs: have, lose, miss, seize, take + the opportunity, opportunity + arise/occur

Use: the opportunity to do something, the opportunity for + Noun


Meaning: a situation where something may or may not happen

Example: There’s a definite possibility of a strike by train drivers next week.


Adjectives: definite, distinct, real, remote, serious, slight, strong

Verbs: face, accept, rule out, recognise, ignore + the possibility

Use: the possibility of doing something [not possibility to do], the possibility that + clause


Meaning: an occasion which allows something to be done; an opportunity

Example: I’m afraid I didn’t get the chance to tell him the good news.


Adjectives: good, ideal, last, second, unexpected

Verbs: get, have, deserve, welcome, give someone, take, turn down + the chance

Use: the chance to do something

Meaning: likelihood; the level of possibility that something will happen

Example: There’s an outside chance that I’ll have to go to Japan next week.


Adjectives: fair, outside, realistic, reasonable, slim

Verbs: be in with a chance / stand a chance of + -ing

Use: the chance of doing something, there’s a chance that + clause, by any chance, on the off chance, No chance!

Final thoughts

These four words are fantastic to have in your vocabulary range and when they are used effectively and with the correct collocations, they can really make your English sound very fluent and native.

As you will see, it is important to understand the difference between opportunity and chance, as I feel that these two are the most similar and can cause the most confusion.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my eBook, “500 Business English Collocations for Everyday Use”, which includes a free audio download of the pronunciation of all the words. Remember, understanding collocations and using them is one of the fastest ways to improve your English. Click below to get access to the eBook now.

Please feel free to comment below and tell me how you use these four expressions and let me know if you have any further doubts surrounding their meaning and use.

Till next week, take care, bye for now.

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Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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