Tricky Rules

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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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Of after Would, Could, Should, or Will

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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Reason with Because

Do not use because after the reason. Use the reason plus that, or else rewrite the sentence. The word because starts adverb clauses, but the noun reason needs an adjective modifier. The word that introduces adjective clauses which modify nouns. Incorrect: The reason he left is because he was frustrated. Correct: The reason he left

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Official/Officious

Official is far more common. It usually is an adjective meaning “authorized.” As a noun, it means a person with authority, usually one who has authority to make decisions or decide matters between two parties. Officious means “meddling in matters not one’s concern.”

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