Common Mistakes

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May/Can

Can as an auxiliary verb means “to be able to.” May as an auxiliary verb means “to be permitted to.” Incorrect: Can we talk? (Well, if you can say it, you are able to talk!) Correct: May we talk? Correct: We may talk if you can listen to my side.

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“Prepositions Ending Sentences”

The word preposition was coined because such words normally precede the position of their objects in a prepositional phrase. Some people then took this definition to mean that a preposition always had to come before its object and, surely, could never end a sentence. This “rule” does not always apply when a subordinate clause comes

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Solid/Stolid

Solid means “firm” or “not liquid or gas.” When applied to a person’s character it implies reliability. Stolid normally refers to character and means “stoic, unemotional.”

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Maybe/May Be

Maybe, the compound word, is an adverb meaning “perhaps” or “possibly.” May be is a verb phrase meaning “might be” or “could be.” Examples: Maybe I will go out tonight. I may be going out tonight.

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Prescribe/Proscribe/Prescription

Prescribe means “to set down authoritatively for direction” or “to set down a medical procedure in order to cure or alleviate symptoms.” The noun form is prescription, that is, something prescribed. Proscribe means “prohibit or limit” or “ostracize or avoid in a social sense.” The noun form is proscription. The words perscription and perscribe do

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