Tricky Rules

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Gone/Went

Gone is the past participle of to go. Used as the verb of a sentence, it must always be preceded by an auxiliary verb such as has, have, had, is, am, are, was, were, be, or one of their contractions. Went is the past tense of to go. It never takes an auxiliary verb. Incorrect:

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Incisive/Decisive

Incisive literally means “cutting into.” Figuratively, it means acute, sharp, or trenchant. The adverb form is incisively; the noun form, incisiveness. Decisive comes from the word decide and means “conclusive, putting an end to debate.” It can also mean “prompt” or “positive.” The adverb form is decisively;the noun form, decisiveness.

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Like/As

Like is a preposition. It should be followed by an object to make a prepositional phrase. As is a conjunction. It should be followed by a clause containing a subject and a verb. Incorrect: He runs like a gazelle does. (Like is followed by a clause.) Correct: He runs like a gazelle. Correct: He runs

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Good/Well

Good is an adjective. It describes nouns or pronouns. It may be used with descriptive linking verbs like look, feel, sound, taste, or be to describe the subject. Incorrect: The coffee tasted well this morning. Correct: The coffee tasted good this morning. Correct: The pitcher is looking good today. Well is normally an adverb. It

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Incredible/Incredulous

Incredible means “hard to believe,” literally “not able to be believed.” Incredulous means “skeptical” or “unbelieving.” It refers to a person’s response. The noun form of incredulous is incredulity. The opposite is credulous, or “gullible, believes anything.” Examples: Kim’s story was incredible. Arthur was incredulous as he listened to the story.

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