English for Everyone

<b>English for Everyone</b>
Learn and Master English Everyday and Everywhere!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

More Slang

Talk nineteen to the dozen: talk incessantly; talk too fast.
e.g. You were talking nineteen to the dozen; I just couldn't make hear or tail of what you were saying.

Gumption: common sense.
e.g. If you've some gumption, you 'll understand the difference between this and that.

Have a load on: very drunk.
e.g. He looked as if he had a load on.

Not born yesterday: not as naive or foolish as you think.
e.g. Don't give me all that nonsense. I was not born yesterday.

Hell-bent on: very determined.
e.g. The team is hell-bent on winning the game tonight.

Right you are: I agree.
e.g. "I think I'm going to accept this job." "Right you are."

All at sea: confused.
e.g. "What do you think of the proposal?" "I'm all at sea; I'm completely clueless."

Get cold feet: become anxious and fearful.
e.g. He got cold feet, and left without taking the challenge.

All hot and bothered: agitated, confused, or excited.
e.g. She was all hot and bothered when she heard the news of their divorce.

Poorly: sick or unwell.
e.g. What's the matter with you today? I say, you look poorly!

Saw you coming: realized your ignorance.
e.g. You gave him the money right away without asking any question; he saw you coming!

Pooped: exhausted.
e.g. I was pooped after working for nine hours in the yard.

Say one's piece: say what one ought to say.
e.g. I must say my piece: that was not a nice thing to say to your parents.

Fork out: pay
e.g. Well, everybody has to fork out $30 for the farewell present to the boss.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, August 13, 2018

Slang and Colloquial Expressions

In the raw: naked.
e.g. Did you see that man on the street? He was dancing in the raw.

Are you with me?: understand or agree with me.
e.g. I've been explaining this for an hour. Are you with me?

Bang out: reveal.
e.g. If you go into politics, you must be prepared to let all your secrets bang out.

Jam full / packed: fully packed.
e.g. The room is jam packed with boxes.

Gift of the gab: ability to give effective speeches.
e.g. The new Mayor has the gift of the gab: people like listening to him.

Keep one's head above water: stay out of debt or a difficult situation.
e.g. In this economic environment, it is not easy to keep your head above water.

Hard at it: busy.
e.g. "Are you working on the project?" "You bet! I'm hard at it."

Not so dusty: quite good.
e.g. Well the performance was not so dusty; much better than I expected.

In the clear: innocent.
e.g. I know you didn't do it; the investigation will put you in the clear.

Hook on to: attach oneself to.
e.g. Don't hook on to your computer all day.

Hot under the collar: very angry.
e.g. When they mentioned his untimely resignation, he was hot under the collar.

Stephen Lau     
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Correct Sentence Construction

Correct Sentence Construction

Effective writing means sentences are not only grammatically correct but also balanced. Awareness holds the key to better sentence construction.

e.g. We like not only watching soccer but also enjoy drinking beer.

e.g. We not only like watching soccer but also enjoy drinking beer. (improved)

If "not only" is followed by a verb, then "but also" should also be followed by a verb.

e.g.The man shot not only the policeman but also killed himself.

e.g. The man not only shot the policeman but also killed himself. (balanced)

e.g. I have and will support the politician. ("will support" is correct, but "have support" is incorrect)

e.g. I have supported and will support the politician. (improved)

e.g. This is not about your income but how you perform in your work.(not balanced)

e.g. This is not about your income but about your work performance. (improved)

e.g. This is not about how much you earn but about how well your perform. (improved)

e.g. Your tennis is better than your son. (incorrect: it is the "tennis" that is better, and not the person)

e.g. Your tennis is better than your son's tennis. (correct)

e.g. The schools in the suburbs are better than the city. (unclear)

e.g. The schools in the suburbs are better than the schools in the city. (improved)

e.g. The schools in the suburbs are better than those in the city. (improved)

e.g. The schools in the suburbs are better than the city's. (improved)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, August 6, 2018

More Prepositional Words and Phrases


Ease someone of something: to relieve or reduce someone of something.

e.g. The doctor eased me of my back pain.

Ease off: diminish; let up doing something.

e.g The rain has eased off; we'd better leave now.

e.g. Come on, he's just a kid. Ease off!


Argue down: defeat someone in a debate.

e.g. He tries to argue down everyone who has opposite views.

Argue for: make a case for someone.

e.g. My lawyer will argue for me in court.

Argue into: convince someone to do something.

e.g. I could not argue myself into helping you in this project.

Argue with: challenge someone or something.

e.g. I won’t argue with what you do; after all, it is your choice.


Fall apart: break into pieces.
e.g. This old house is falling apart; we'd better sell it as soon as possible.

e.g. After the death of his wife, his life began to fall apart.

Fall away: drop away from something.

e.g. The paint is falling away from the side of the house.

Fall back on someone or something: use someone or something as reserve.

e.g. Your father is someone you can fall back on when you run out of money.

e.g. We fell back on the emergency generator when the ower went out.

Fall behind: lag behind schedule.

e.g. You are falling behind in your mortgage payments.

e.g. Get cracking, and don't fall behind your work.

Fall by: drop in value.

e.g. The gold price fell by 10 percent within this week.

Fall down on the job: fail to do a job efficiently.

e.g. If you keep falling down on the job, you will be fired!

Fall for someone: be in love with someone.

e.g. He had fallen for his cousin, and soon they became engaged.

Fall in with someone or something: become involved with someone or something.

e.g. I am afraid he has fallen in with the wrong group with people.

e.g. Your son has fallen in with drugs.

Fall into disfavor: lose one's influence.

e.g. The Mayor has fallen into disfavor with his supporters; he might lose in the coming election.

Fall into disgrace: become without honor.

e.g. The Governor fell into disgrace because of his involvement with the murder case.

Fall into disuse: to be used less and less.

e.g. Your car has fallen into disuse; if I were you, I would sell it.

Stephen Lau     
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Correct Use of Prepositions


Ace in(to): to be luck to be admitted into (slang).

e.g. My son aced into Harvard University.

Ace out of: to be lucky to accomplish something.

e.g. I aced out of my chemistry exam.


Turn against: attack, defy.

e.g. He turned against those who did not support him.
e.g. Many people have turned against the sanctions of the government.

Turn around / turn about: reverse the situation.

e.g The company is losing money, but it hopes to turn around soon.
e.g. Do you think the new manager can turn it about?

Turn aside: avoid or evade.

e.g. The presidential candidate turned aside  the reporters' question.

Turn back: reverse the journey.

e.g. I don't think there is anything ahead; let's turn back.

Turn down: reject.

e.g. We had no choice but to turn down the offer.

Turn in: go to bed; submit.

e.g. It is very late; let's turn in.
e.g. Have you turned in your homework?

Turn into: become something or someone different.

e.g. Bitterness has turned him into an unforgiving person.

Turn up: appear.

e.g. Due to the weather, not many people turned up at the meeting.


Appeal against: ask a court to cancel something.

e.g. The lawyer appealed against the court’s decision.

Appeal for: demand as a right.

e.g. I think we should appeal for justice.

e.g. They are appealing for our help.

Appeal to: attract or please someone.

e.g. The proposal appealed to many of us.

e.g. Her personality appeals to everybody around her.

e.g. Does this food appeal to your taste?

Stephen Lau     
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Learn Some American Idioms

Take to one’s heels: run away
e.g. Before the police could come, the thief took to his heels.

Feel like: have a desire for something
e.g. I feel like eating a hamburger.

Under a cloud: under suspicion
e.g. He has been under a cloud; the police has been investigating him for some time.

Pull the wool over someone’s eyes: deceive
e.g. Don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes: I wasn’t born yesterday.

Odd man out: a typical person or thing
e.g. Everybody has a partner, and you are an odd man out because you don’t have one.

Take the bull by the horns: deal with the challenge directly
e.g. This is a very difficult situation, but we must take the bull by the horns.

Make as if: pretend
e.g. You made as if you enjoyed the film, but you really didn’t.

Late in life: in old age
e.g. It was only late in life that he became a famous writer.

Bark up the wrong tree: make the wrong choice; accuse the wrong person.
e.g. If you think I took your money, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Poke one’s nose into something: interfere with
e.g. I don’t like the way you poke your nose into my affairs.

Above all: most importantly
e.g. Above all, you must have a valid visa if you wish to continue to stay in the United States.

A little bird told me
: somehow I knew
e.g. “How did you know what I did?” “Well, a little bird told me.”

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, July 27, 2018

Choosing the Right Words

In English, there are many words which look similar, but they are different in meaning:


Studio: a place where pictures are taken, or films are made.

e.g. The film was made in a Hollywood studio.

Studious: fond of study; careful and thoughtful.

e.g. To be a good scientist, you must be studious.


Mellow: mature; soft and pure; rich and full.

e.g. As he continues to age, he become more mellow and compassionate.

Melodious: tuneful; pleasant to the ear.

e.g. He voice is melodious; he should take up singing.


Spoiled (the past tense or past participle of spoil) means lay waste, rob; spoilt means mar or ruin.

e.g. Your car accident spoiled my vacation.

e.g. You are a spoilt child!


Genteel: well-bred, polite; imitating the lifestyle of the rich.

e.g. Your friend is genteel. Is he very rich?

e.g. All along he has been living in genteel poverty. He is not practical.

Gentle: kind, friendly, mild.

e.g. Be gentle to my puppy.


Disposable: cant be removed or got rid of.

e.g. This machine is disposable; we can do without it

Indisposed: not feeling well; unwilling to

e.g. You look indisposed. Is there something wrong with you?

e.g. Many people are indisposed to working on weekends.


Recourse means turning to others or something for help; resort means to turn to for help (both noun and verb).

e.g. His only recourse was the police.

e.g. The police should not resort to violence to stop the peaceful demonstration.

e.g. The army decided using violence as the last resort.


Terminable: can be ended.

e.g. Your employment is only temporary and terminable at any time.

Terminal: at the end.

e.g. The doctor told him that he had terminal cancer.


Decorative: having an artistic or showy effect.
e.g. The ballroom with all the ribbons and flowers are very decorative.

Decorous: showing good taste.

e.g. The Princess looks decorous in that simple but beautiful dress.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau