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Act can act as both a verb and a noun. The previous sentence gave an example of one meaning of the verb act, namely, to serve as. Fairly straightforward, isn’t it? Please act as if you care.

The last sentence of the preceding paragraph gave an example of another meaning of the verb act, i.e., to pretend. I was asking you to pretend to care about what I was saying because I’m a sensitive guy and my feelings would be hurt if I thought I went to all of this effort and nobody cared.

Of course, I can’t see you. So I have no idea if you care, regardless of whether you act as if you do or not. That is, I claim that I can’t see you. How do you know that I can’t hack into the camera on your computer and take a look at you? Maybe I can. Are you paranoid yet? Maybe you’d better get dressed and stop picking your nose.

Related to the “to pretend” meaning of act, act also means to perform in a film or stage production. I say it’s related to the pretend meaning of act because people who act on stage or in film are usually pretending to be other people for the benefit of the audience.

Some people also pretend to be other people off the stage and screen. They’re usually called con artists, not actors.

To act can also mean to behave in a suitable manner for a particular situation. For example, you might tell someone to act his or her age. If you tell that to a two-year -ld that means that they should throw the occasional temper tantrum. That’s what most two-year-olds do. So you might want to say “act your” age to only adults. Then again, adults start wars. Children rarely do. So maybe its best if you don’t say it to anyone.

As a noun, act can mean one segment of a stage play. Actors can, thus, act in just one act of a play or they might act in all of the acts. It would have made for a less redundant sentence if there were different words for the noun and verb act, wouldn’t it?

Similarly, an act can be a performance in everyday life. For example, someone might pretend to be brilliant, but it’s all an act because he’s really just a very good bullshitter. I’ve known a few of those people. You probably have too.

An act is also a piece of legislation passed by a government. If you are speaking about a particular piece of legislation, the A should be capitalized in Act. No, that’s not true. When you’re speaking it’s difficult to differentiate between upper- and lower-case letters. What I meant to say was, if you are writing about a particular piece of legislation, the A should be capitalized in Act.

While working with their staffs to formulate an Act, politicians like to act in public as if they care about the public’s welfare. In most cases, it’s just an act. What they really care about are the public’s votes because winning them will allow the politicians to keep their jobs come election time.

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