Tricky Rules

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Maybe/May Be

Maybe, the compound word, is an adverb meaning “perhaps” or “possibly.” May be is a verb phrase meaning “might be” or “could be.” Examples: Maybe I will go out tonight. I may be going out tonight.

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Prescribe/Proscribe/Prescription

Prescribe means “to set down authoritatively for direction” or “to set down a medical procedure in order to cure or alleviate symptoms.” The noun form is prescription, that is, something prescribed. Proscribe means “prohibit or limit” or “ostracize or avoid in a social sense.” The noun form is proscription. The words perscription and perscribe do

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Morale/Moral

Morale, accent on second syllable, is a noun meaning “a person’s mental or emotional state.” Moral, accent on first syllable, is either a noun meaning “the lesson from a story” or an adjective meaning “virtuous, behaving according to high standards.” Examples: Team morale rose after the no-hitter. The moral of the story is “Never tell

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Presume/Assume

Assume has a variety of meanings. It basically means “to take up or on oneself,” “to suppose or take for granted,” “to pretend,” or “to be taken up.” The noun form is assumption. Presume is related to and similar to assume, but it has the sense of doing it beforehand. It means “to dare or

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Nowheres

The adverbs anyway, anywhere, everywhere, nowhere, and somewhere do not end with an -s. Incorrect: I put the pen somewheres around here. Correct: I put the pen somewhere around here.

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