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What's the difference in meaning between "act a certain way" and "act in a certain way"?

It confuses me sometimes.

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If you say

He acted a certain way.
He acted like a criminal.

you are describing exactly how he acted and your description is very accurate.

If you say

He acted in a certain way.
He acted in a suspicious way.
He acted in a criminal way.

you're description doesn't not nail down all the details to exactly describe how he acted, but you are saying he acted in a similar way to something, that his actions taken together makes him seem suspect.

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Meaning of both the words ("act in a certain way" and "act a certain way") is same but if you use prepositions in English language it look like quite professional. Believers believe that, if we use preposition it look like a proper phrase.

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