Common Mistakes

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Wise (Suffix)

Coining new words with the suffix -wise may be clever, but it is nonstandard. Incorrect: He did well this quarter saleswise. Correct: He did well in sales this quarter.

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Commas in Numbers

In numbers of more than three digits, use a comma after every third digit from right to left. Incorrect: The area of North America is approximately 9435000 square miles. Correct: The area of North America is approximately 9,435,000 square miles. (This is much easier to read.) Numbers which normally do not take commas are ZIP

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Sure/Surely

Sure is an adjective. It modifies nouns or pronouns. Surely is an adverb. It modifies verbs, adjectives, or adverbs. Correct: It is a sure thing. (Thing is a noun. An adjective modifies it.) Incorrect: It is sure hot outside. (Hot is an adjective. It should be modified by an adverb.) Correct: It is surely hot

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Unequivocal/Unequivocable

Unequivocal means “leaving no doubt.” Unequivocable does not exist. Equivocal, equivocally, and unequivocally are all legitimate words with the same root. Similarly, equivocable, equivocably, and unequivocable do not exist.

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Would Have/Would Of

Could of does not exist. Neither do should of, will of, or would of as verbs. Write could have, should have, will have, or would have. If you want to emphasize the pronunciation, write it as a verb contraction: could’ve, should’ve, will’ve, or would’ve.

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