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With six, I'm a few of your counterfeit pounds.
With twelve, in your body, and a body of water.
With eighteen, a body of water to clear the ground.
With twenty-two, taking a car swimming in a body of water.
With twenty-seven or thirty-eight, I'm probably terrified.
With thirty-one, a small piece as a body of water helps you.

What am I?

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    $\begingroup$ What am you? A poet! And al'more. $\endgroup$ – humn Dec 11 '17 at 11:16
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Following the sage Herb you can be

iver & ake

With six, I'm a few of your counterfeit pounds.

F= 6 → fake fiver

With twelve, in your body, and a body of water.

L = 12 → liver & lake

With eighteen, a body of water to clear the ground.

R = 18 → river & rake (e.g. leaves)

With twenty-two, taking a car swimming in a body of water.

DR (4 + 18)= 22 → driver (someone taking a car) & drake (male duck as may be found swimming in a body of water).
Thanks @J. Siebeneichler for Drake

With twenty-seven or thirty-eight, I'm probably terrified.

S (19) + H (8) = 27 → shiver & shake
Q (17) + U (21) = 38 → quiver & quake

With thirty-one, a small piece as a body of water helps you.

S (19) + L (12) = 31 → sliver (small piece) & slake (quench thirst)

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    $\begingroup$ Well done! I hadn't considered that it would be a two word answer. $\endgroup$ – Herb Wolfe Dec 11 '17 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ It could also be DRAKE (a male duck). $\endgroup$ – J. Siebeneichler Dec 11 '17 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Herb - it was really you who made the breakthrough. It's typical of this OP (!) to have some double-meaning which can lead to extra meaning answer. Also J. Siebeneichler you posted great answer just around same time and I would upvote yours. $\endgroup$ – Tom Dec 11 '17 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ @J.Siebeneichler, thanks for your magnanimity. I agree too regarding Herb ! Also your comment on his answer sparked mine plus your answer had line for 22 correct - and I've corrected above with this. $\endgroup$ – Tom Dec 11 '17 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ When I saw your first line about the sage Herb, I assumed you'd be barking completely up the wrong tree! Good job, everyone - and thank you for the compliment to the OP in your comment above :-D $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 11 '17 at 16:39
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For the sake of having a complete answer, giving credit to Tom and J. Siebeneichler for the second part of the answer

You are the letters

ake and iver

Using the position of each letter as it's value, the solutions for each line are:

With the 6th letter, f, you become fake, which is a definition of counterfeit, and fiver, which I assume is slang for a 5 pound note.

With the 12th letter, l, you become lake, a body of water, and liver, an organ of the body.

Adding the 18th letter, r, gives river, another body of water, and rake, to clear the ground, usually of leaves. I had considered rake here, but was focused solely on the body of water, and hadn't made the connect to their being a second set of letters.

D + r, 4 + 18 = 22, giving driver, who would take a car, and drake, a male duck, who could be found swimming in a body of water.
Credit to Tom and J. Siebeneichler for that one, as I had no idea.

S + h, 19 + 8 = 27, becomes shake and shiver, and q + u, 17 + 21 = 38, makes quake and quiver, either of which you may be doing when you are scared.

Adding the 19th letter, s, and the 12th letter, l, gives 31 and sliver, a small piece of something, and slake, which means to quench one's thirst.

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    $\begingroup$ Some hints look like they encode more than one meaning. For example, 12 is connected with lake, as you describe, but how is it connected with "in your body"? Maybe there's another set of letters whose values add up to 12 and can be added to AKE, forming a word for something that's "in your body". $\endgroup$ – J. Siebeneichler Dec 11 '17 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ Nice job, everyone! :-D Now, the dilemma of which answer to accept ... $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 11 '17 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor I would give it to Tom. I believe he got more of it on his own than I did. $\endgroup$ – Herb Wolfe Dec 11 '17 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor I'd say accept this one - completed answer by Herb. It was the breakthrough and mine needed update from J. Siebeneichler too. Anyway that dilemma is going to be a long time resolving as this is the latest in the reserve queue to keep you at a nice 0 (mod 5)! $\endgroup$ – Tom Dec 11 '17 at 16:56

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