Tricky Rules

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Hypo-/Hyper-

The prefix hyper- means “above,” “beyond,” or “excessively.” The prefix hypo- means “under” or “below normal.” Examples: Hypodermic needle (under the dermis) Hyperactive child (excessively active)

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Kind Of, Use of

The expressions kind of or sort of to mean “rather,” “partially,” or “somewhat” are nonstandard. Both expressions literally mean “type of” or “variety of.” Incorrect: The child felt kind of lonely. Correct: The child felt somewhat (or rather) lonely. Correct: The kestrel is a kind of falcon. (A type or variety of falcon) When using

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Farther/Further

Farther refers to length or distance. It is the comparative form of the word far when referring to distance. Further means “to a greater degree,” “additional,” or “additionally.” It refers to time or amount. It is the comparative form of the word far when meaning “much.” Correct: London is farther north than Juneau. (Refers to

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Hypocritical/Hypercritical

Hypercritical means “excessively critical.” Hypocritical means “two-faced” or “characterized by hypocrisy.” It literally means “critical underneath.” Note also the spelling of the nouns hypocrisy and hypocrite.

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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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