Tricky Rules

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Hanged/Hung

Hanged means “executed by hanging.” Some authorities accept hung. Hung means “suspended” otherwise. Both are past tenses or past participles of the verb to hang, but each applies to specific cases. Examples: The five plotters in the Lincoln assassination were hanged. We hung the towels out on the clothesline to dry.

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Indeterminate/Indeterminable

Indeterminate means “vague” or “unclear.” Indeterminable means “unable to find out or decide.” Both adjectives have similar roots, but the difference is in the suffix -able.

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Have or Had plus Ought

The expressions have ought, has ought, and had ought are nonstandard. To correct it, simply remove the have, has, or had. Incorrect: You had ought to have been there. Correct: You ought to have been there.

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Have after Could, Would, 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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