Common Mistakes

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Quote/Quotation/Quotation Mark

Quote is a verb. It means “to repeat the words of a writer or speaker.” Quotation is a noun. It means “words quoted” or “the act of quoting.” Quotation marks are punctuation marks used to highlight a written quotation. Correct: He quoted Shakespeare frequently. Incorrect: We listened to a long quote from the government report.

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Occult/Cult

These words are sometimes confused because the expression a cult often sounds like the word occult. Cult most commonly means a religious sect organized around a strong leader and requiring beliefs or commitments not typical of other related groups. It can also refer to a following of a particular religious figure or icon within an

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Raise/Rise

Raise means “to make higher,” “build,” or “nurture and cause to grow.” It is normally transitive, that is, the action is done to something or someone else. Rise means “to get up” or “become elevated.” It is never transitive. The past tense is rose; the past participle, risen. Examples: They raised the barn in two

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Of, Use of

Do not use of to replace the verb have. See Could Of or Could Have? for examples. The word of following the prepositions outside, inside, off, or atop is nonstandard. Simply drop the word of. Incorrect: He looked inside of the box. Correct: He looked inside the box.

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Real/Really

Real is an adjective. It modifies only nouns or pronouns. Really is an adverb. It modifies verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Correct: He stayed at hotels with real class. (Class is a noun. The adjective modifies it.) Incorrect: He stayed at a real classy hotel. (Classy is an adjective. It should be modified by an

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