Tricky Rules

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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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Lie/Lay

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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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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