English for Everyone

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Learning and Mastering English

American Idioms

All of it: the best
e.g. From the way he presented himself at the debate, he was all of it.
 Far cry from: very different from
e.g. Your achievement this time is a far cry from your previous one.

Sit on one’s hands: refuse to give any help
e.g. When we needed your help; you just sat on your hands.

As easy as pie: very easy
e.g. Cooking a turkey is as easy as pie.
Alive and kicking: living and healthy; okay
e.g. I had been sick for some time, but now I am alive and kicking.”
e.g. “How are you?” “Well, alive and kicking.”

Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Make no odds: make no difference
e.g. It makes no odds to me whether you come or not.

No oil painting: ugly.
e.g. To tell the truth, the dress you bought me is no oil painting.

Pardon my French: excuse my bad language.
e.g. Please pardon my French: I was so angry with his remarks.

Not a patch on: nothing to compare with; very inferior to.
e.g. Your current proposal is not a patch on your previous one.

Fall over oneself: too eager.
e.g. He fell over himself to get that job.

All the rage: fashionable.
e.g. Wearing a hat will be all the rage this summer.

Slow on the uptake: slow to understand.
e.g. I'm a bit slow on the uptake. Can you explain it once more?

Choice of Words

Adverse / Averse

Adverse means unfavorable; averse means opposed to.

e.g. We managed to survive in these adverse economic conditions.
e.g. He was averse to giving financial aids to the poor.

Await / Wait

Await means wait for an event, an occurrence, or a development; it does not require a preposition, such as for. Wait always carries the preposition for.

e.g. We await your decision.
e.g. The people were awaiting the outcome of the election.
e.g. He is waiting for your reply.
e.g. Don't wait for me; just go ahead.

Prepositional Words and Phrases

Follow on: die at a date later than someone.
e.g. His wife passed away. He followed on a few months later.

Follow through: continue to supervise.
e.g. I hope someone would follow through on this project until its completion.

Follow up:  check something out.
e.g. Please follow up this lead, and see what will happen next.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Learning and Mastering English

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Resources for Better English

American Idioms

Sit on one’s hands: refuse to give any help
e.g. When we needed your help; you just sat on your hands.

Sit tight: wait patiently
e.g. Just relax and sit tight!
Skeleton in the closet: a hidden and shocking secret
e.g. That he was a gay was skeleton in the closet.
Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Shoot off: depart quickly.

e.g. You'd better shoot off before the storm comes.

Go down with: be accepted or approved by.

e.g. The President's speech went down with the Spanish community.

Alive and kicking: in good health.

e.g. "How is she doing?" "Very much alive and kicking."

Choice of Words

Exhausting / Exhaustive

Exhausting means making one very tired; exhaustive means very thorough, covering a lot.

e.g. To remove all the books from this room is exhausting work.

e.g. This is an exhaustive inquiry, covering every aspect of what happened.

Baleful / Baneful

Baleful means evil; baneful means harmful.

e.g. I don't like your friend, especially the baleful looks on his eyes. 

e.g. Don't drink too much alcohol; beware of its long-term baneful effect on your health.

Indoor / Indoors

Indoor is an adjective; indoors is an adverb.

e.g. Bowling is an indoor game.

e.g. It's going to rain; let's go indoors.

Prepositional Words and Phrases


Head off: intercept or divert someone or something.

e.g. I think we can head off the problem this time.

e.g. Don't worry. We can head it off with another new project

Head out: begin a journey.

e.g. What time do we head out tomorrow morning?

Head up: be in charge of something.

e.g. I think I shall head up the committee soon.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

                                           Learning and Mastering English

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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All-Round Weight Loss
by Stephen Lau

Everybody wants to lose some weight; some even want to lose a lot more. But almost everybody gains back all the pounds that have been lost, and then some.

Why is that? Because weight loss is not just about eating less—after all, everybody wants to eat more, not less. Weight loss is about everything, just as Oprah Winfrey once said: “My greatest failure was in believing that the weight issue was just about weight.” Oprah was right. Weight loss is all-round; that is, it involves the body, the mind, and the spirit. To illustrate, weight loss is also about the thinking mind; it is the thoughts that make you fat, more than anything else. According to Esther and Jerry Hicks' bestseller "Money and the Law of Attraction," people not only want the food but also believe that the food will make them fat, and thus have created that which they do not want; unfortunately, their thoughts attract what they do not want, so their bodies respond to the thinking mind, and gain instead of losing weight.

Therefore, going on a fad diet, abstaining from certain types of food, reducing calorie consumption-all these only contribute to the weight-loss hype that sustains the billion-dollar weight-loss industry. The consumers forever lose in the battle of the bulge.

ALL-ROUND WEIGHT LOSS is holistic weight management in that it covers every aspect of weight loss, beginning with the mind, the body, and then the spirit, to make weight loss natural and permanent. Only holistic weight management guarantees lasting weight loss. Do not waste money on diets, and weight-loss products and programs that do not work. Follow the author's simple but comprehensive holistic approach to wellness and weight management. Remember, if you are healthy in body, mind, and soul, you will not have any weight problem.

Click here to go to the page to get your book ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Stephen Lau

Monday, October 2, 2017

Get Your FREE Book to Learn ESL

This is a book on the basics for all ESL learners. Learning English as a second language is not an easy task with respect to speaking and writing. In speaking English, one has to adjust to certain phonetic sounds that are unique to the English language. In writing English, one has to learn new words and phrases, as well as idioms and colloquial expressions, in addition to the complexity of the English grammar.

Having said that, knowing the basics, and following the right pathway, you can still master ESL and speak and write as if English is your native language. Learning ESL is all about practice, practice, and more practice, with the right know-how.

Get this book for FREE. Click here to go to the page to download this FREE book.

Stephen Lau

Monday, September 25, 2017

Words Frequently Confused and Misused

Here are some of the frequently misused words:

Observable / Observant
Observable: can be seen or noticed; observant: quick to pay attention.

e.g. The solution to the problem is observable to many scientists.
e.g. To be a good scientist, you must be observant of all the relevant details and data.

Pretense Pretension
Pretense is to make believe; pretension is a claim

e.g. She makes no pretense to like her mother-in-law. (She does not pretend that she likes her mother-in-law)
e.g. He made no pretension to that award. (He never claimed that he received that award)

Ingenious / Ingenuous
Ingenious is clever; ingenuous is natural, free from deceit.

e.g. I must say that was an ingenious way to fund the project.
e.g. The Mayor's response to the questions from the reporter was sincere and ingenuous.

Noteworthy / Noticeable
Noteworthy means deserving attention; noticeable means easily seen.

e.g. The candidate's accomplishments are noteworthy.
e.g. The flaws in the Governor's character are easily noticeable to the public.

Providing that / Provided that
Providing that is incorrect.

e.g. You can go out to play provided (that) you have finished your homework. (meaning: on condition that)
e.g. You can keep the book for another week providing that no one has reserved it (incorrect: provided that should be used instead)
e.g. The millionaire has helped the poor, providing many of them with food and shelter. (correct; meaning: giving or offering)

Indoor Indoors
Indoor is an adjective; indoors is an adverb.

e.g. Bowling is an indoor game.
e.g. It's going to rain; let's go indoors.

Welcome / Welcomed
Welcome is an adjective or a verb; welcomed is a participle.

e.g. You are most welcome.
e.g. This is a welcome party for all newcomers.
e.g. I like to welcome all of you.
e.g. The guests were welcomed by all of us in front of the house.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, September 11, 2017

Prepositional Words and Phrases

A prepositional phrase is a combination of a verb with a preposition. Such a combination may give different meanings to the same verb with different prepositions. For example, the verb “argue” may result in different meanings with different prepositions:  

Argue about: dispute or quarrel with someone over.

e.g. They often argue about racial injustice over the dinner table.

Argue against: make a case against someone or something.

e.g. The police discovered new evidence that argued against the criminal charge.

Argue back: answer back.

e.g. I wish he would not argue back so much.

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.

Therefore, learn more prepositional phrases and find out how they are different in meaning with different prepositions.


Talk back: answer impolitely.

e.g. It's rude to talk back to your parents like that.

Talk over: discuss.

e.g. We'll talk over the matter before we see your parents.


Back down: retreat from a position in an argument.

e.g. Knowing that he did not have a valid point, he backed down.

Back out: desert; fail to keep a promise.

e.g. You said you would help us, but you backed out.

Back out of: fail to keep a promise.

e.g. We cannot back out of the contract; we are legally obligated to do what we are supposed to do.

Back up: support

e.g. Are you going to back me up if I decide to go ahead with the project?


Touch on: mention briefly.

e.g. The professor barely touched on the subject of Civil War.

Touch up: repair.

e.g. Can you touch up the scratches on the door?


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

Monday, September 4, 2017

Colloquial Expressions

Colloquial expressions are often acceptable in informal writing. The more you learn, the more you will know when to use them or not to use them in your writing or speaking. 

Piece of cake: something easy to do.
e.g. Moving this piece of furniture is just a piece of cake.

Streets ahead of: far superior to.
e.g. As far as computer technology is concerned, he is streets ahead of me.

Good for you: well done!
e.g. "I aced my test." "Good for you!"

Hard stuff: whisky or any liquor.
"Would you like a Coke?" "I'd prefer some hard stuff."

Make one's pile: make one's fortune.
e.g. Real estate is where he makes his pile.

Go under: fail.
e.g. I am sorry to say that all your proposals have gone under.

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

Fork out: pay.
e.g. Everyone has to fork out $30 for the picnic.

Back to square one: back to where one started.
e.g. We're back to square one: no deal.

Hook it: depart immediately.

e.g. Come on, hook it; our parents will be back soon.

Long in the tooth: very old.
e.g. "How old is your grandfather?" Long in the tooth, I guess."

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.

Not worth powder and shot: not worth the effort.
e.g. If I were you, I would just give it up; it's not worth powder and shot.

Be a devil: take a risk.
e.g. Come on, be a devil; you've nothing to lose.

Stephen Lau

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Use of Different Punctuation Marks

Colon and semi-colon are often used in writing. What are their differences?

Colon is used mainly for the following reasons:

(1) To introduce a quotation or a dialogue, e.g. The President said:  "Racial discrimination should not be tolerated."  Of course, a comma can also be used. The only difference is that a colon is stronger than a comma in introducing what follows.

(2) To emphasize what is to follow, e.g. He wanted only one thing: money.

(3) To explain something, e.g. The manager works very hard: he never leaves his office before 8 p.m.

Semi-colon is used for the following reasons:

(1) To replace the use of coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, or, nor,so, yet), e.g.He worked very hard; he passed his test with flying colors. (He worked hard, so he passed his test with flying colors.)

(2) To separate long sentences, e.g. When he finished his work, he went to the mall, where he spent hours shopping; he was very tired but he did not want to go home because he had an argument with his wife that morning.

(3) To introduce sentences for balance, e.g. In the morning, she does some stretch exercises; in the afternoon, she goes to the gym; in the evening, she goes to a yoga class.

Stephen Lau 
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Learn Prepositional Words and Phrases

Hash up: do something repeatedly; retell a story
e.g. The audience would like to hear something different, not hashing up the same story.
e.g. We all heard it before; he was just hashing up his past experience.

Brush up: revive knowledge of

e.g. I think I should brush up my French before my trip to Paris.


Buckle up: get ready to drive

e.g. Please buckle up; it's going to be a long drive.

Buckle to: set to work

e.g. It's getting late; you'd better buckle to your project, if you want to finish it today.

Lay about: strike on all sides
e.g. In a fierce rage, he was laying about everyone with nasty words
Lay by: save
e.g. We have to lay by a certain sum of money for the education of our children.
Lay off: dismiss from work
e.g. In a downturn economy, many workers are laid off.
Lay out: invest; plan
e.g. A financial planner may help you lay out your retirement.
Boil down: to put a matter briefly
Your talk boils down to one thing: you want my help.
Stand by: wait; be ready to assist
e.g. Will you stand by me when I need some help?
Stand for: represent
e.g. This symbol stands for equality.
Stand out: become noticeable
e.g. His accomplishments made him stand out among his peers.
Stand up: fail to keep an appointment
e.g. He said he would meet me at the train station, but he stood me up.
Boil over: break out in anger
e.g. When he heard the insulting remark, he was boiling over with rage.
Harp on: refer to a subject repeatedly
e.g. Don't harp on your divorce; we've heard enough!
Stand up for: defend; protect against
e.g. I am going to stand up for my rights.
Stand up to: resist
e.g. I am prepared to stand up to anyone who opposes my proposal.
Fall back on: use as emergency
e.g. This amount of money is what we could fall back on if we are out of employment.
e.g. Can we fall back on you when we are in trouble?
Fall behind: not progressing at the required speed
e.g. We cannot afford to fall behind now that it is getting dark.
Fall behind in: lag
e.g. Walk faster If you don’t want to fall behind In this marathon race,
Fall off: decrease
e.g. Business is falling off
Fall out with: quarrel with
e.g. He fell out with every member of his family.
Fall through: fail
e.g. All your business proposals fell through.
Bear down: move quickly towards
e.g. The enemies were bearing down on the soldiers.
e.g. A hurricane is bearing down on the islands.
Bear on: related to; have to do with
e.g. The outcome did not bear on the proposal.
Bear up: endure
e.g. In this extremely hot weather, it is difficult for many to bear up.
e.g. The woman bore up well when she heard the news that her husband was killed in the accident.
Bear up under: endure
e.g. Many Jews had to bear up under the tyranny of Hitler.
Stephen Lau
Copyright © by Stephen Lau