Tricky Rules

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Parameter/Perimeter

These two words are often confused, especially parameter for perimeter. Perimeter, pronounced with a short i in the second syllable, means “the border or line around an object, especially a two-dimensional geometric figure.” By extension, it can refer to the border of any area or any kind of limit. Parameter, pronounced with a short a

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Sensual/Sensuous

In modern usage, sensual means “physical, gratifying the body or its senses.” Sensuous means “appealing to the senses, especially by beauty or flavor.”

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Macro-/Micro-

The prefix macr- or macro- means “large” or “long.” The prefix micr- or micro- means “small” or “tiny.” Examples: macroeconomics–the study of economic systems. microeconomics–the study of a specific transaction or market. The prefix micr- or micro- in the metric system means “millionth,” so a microliter is a millionth of a liter.

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Persecute/Prosecute/Prosecution

Prosecute means “to begin or carry out a legal claim against someone, usually for a crime” or “to carry or accomplish.” The act of prosecuting is prosecution. The side carrying out the legal claim is also referred to as the prosecution. An attorney representing the accuser (usually the government) is a prosecutor. Persecute means “to

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Set/Sit

Set means to “put in a certain place.” It is normally followed by a direct object, that is, it acts upon something else. It is transitive. Sit means “to be seated.” It is always intransitive. Incorrect: Set down on this chair. Correct: Sit down on this chair. Incorrect: Sit the money on the counter. Correct:

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