Tricky Rules

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Lay/Lie

Lay means “to place something down.” It is something you do to something else. It is a transitive verb. Incorrect: Lie the book on the table. Correct: Lay the book on the table. (It is being done to something else.) Lie means “to recline” or “be placed.” It does not act on anything or anyone

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Fewer/Less

Use fewer with objects that can be counted one-by-one. Use less with qualities or quantities that cannot be individually counted. Incorrect: There were less days below freezing last winter. Correct: There were fewer days below freezing last winter. (Days can be counted.) Correct: I drank less water than she did. (Water cannot be counted individually

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I Hope/Hopefully

Hopefully is an adverb which means what it ought to–“full of hope” or “characterized by hope.” It normally modifies verbs. Nonstandard English sometimes substitutes the word hopefully for I hope (or some other subject with the verb hope). Correct: They listened hopefully for the sound of the rescue party. (They listened with hope) Incorrect: Hopefully,

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Leave/Let

Leave means “to allow to remain.” Let simply means “to allow” or “to permit.” Incorrect: Let him alone! Correct: Leave him alone! (Allow him to remain alone.) Incorrect: Leave me do it again. Correct: Let me do it again. (Allow me to do it.)

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Flagrant/Blatant

Blatant literally means “noisy.” By extension it refers to something done obtrusively and noticeably. The adverb form is blatantly. The noun form, blatancy, is rarely used. Flagrant means “openly scandalous or notorious.” The adverb form is flagrantly. The noun form, flagrancy, is not as common. The Latin legal term flagrante delicto means “while the crime

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