Tricky Rules

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Literal(ly)

Literal comes from the Latin word meaning “letter.” It means “according to a specific word or definition, not figurative or metaphorical.” It can also mean “following the exact words,” “made up of letters,” or “exact in fact or detail.” The adverb form is literally. A literal translation is a translation that is word-for-word, following the

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Orient/Orientate

The word orient as a noun means “east.” It may be capitalized when referring to the geographical location of the Far East. Example: Hong Kong is located in the Orient. Orient as a verb means to “find direction” or “give direction.” The noun form of this kind of orienting is orientation. Sometimes people in their

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Renown/Reknown

Renown means “fame.” Renowned is the adjective form meaning “famous.” Reknown does not exist in English. Apparently it is drawn from confusion with known.

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Littlest/Least

The word little can be used in two different senses–meaning “small in size” or “small amount of.” Examples: He was still a little boy. (small in size) Please give me a little milk. (small amount of) This becomes trickier in the comparative and superlative because little has two different forms. If little means “small in

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Only, Use of

When using the word just as an adverb meaning “no more than,” place it directly in front of the word it modifies. Similarly, place the word only directly in front of the word it modifies. Vague: Just give me three more days. Correct: Give me just three more days. Vague: I only have three dollars.

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