Tricky Rules

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Wise (Suffix)

Coining new words with the suffix -wise may be clever, but it is nonstandard. Incorrect: He did well this quarter saleswise. Correct: He did well in sales this quarter.

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Sure/Surely

Sure is an adjective. It modifies nouns or pronouns. Surely is an adverb. It modifies verbs, adjectives, or adverbs. Correct: It is a sure thing. (Thing is a noun. An adjective modifies it.) Incorrect: It is sure hot outside. (Hot is an adjective. It should be modified by an adverb.) Correct: It is surely hot

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Unequivocal/Unequivocable

Unequivocal means “leaving no doubt.” Unequivocable does not exist. Equivocal, equivocally, and unequivocally are all legitimate words with the same root. Similarly, equivocable, equivocably, and unequivocable do not exist.

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Would Have/Would Of

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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Suspicious/Jealous/Envious

Jealous means “apprehensive or vengeful out of fear of being replaced by someone else.” It can also mean “watchful,” “anxiously suspicious,” “zealous,” or “expecting complete devotion.” The last is normally applied to God. The noun form is jealousy; the adverb form, jealously. Envy means “to bear a grudge toward someone due to coveting what that

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