English for Everyone

<b>English for Everyone</b>
Stephen Lau's website to help you get the wisdom to live as if everything is a miracle.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Learn Some English Grammar Essentials for Effective Writing


All languages have certain rules that must be followed, and there are also exceptions to those rules, in order to have effective communication. Whether you are a lifelong speaker of English, or a new learner of the language, knowing certain basic grammar is necessary for effective writing, which is an essential communication skill in personal relationships and in almost every profession.


Sentence Fragments

A grammatically correct sentence has to be complete: that is, it must have a subject and a verb, as well as complete in meaning.

Sentence fragments occur when they are merely phrases, subordinate clauses (clauses that cannot stand alone), or combinations of the two.

e.g. I will not go. Unless you come with me. (a subordinate clause)

I will not go unless you come with me. (correct)

e.g. I saw the woman at the corner of the street. Shouting and arguing with the policeman. (a phrase)

I saw the woman at the corner of the street. She was shouting and arguing with the policeman. (correct)

Intentional fragments, however, are acceptable in good writing for dramatic effect, such as emphasis.

e.g. If I were you, I would accept this offer. The chance of a lifetime!

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when you join independent sentences without using a coordinating conjunction (e.g. andbutforor, nor, soyet) or a proper punctuation mark (e.g. a period, a colon, or a semi-colon—NOT a comma)

e.g. The man took the money from the bag, he ran away immediately. (run-on)

e.g. The man took the money from the bag, and he ran away immediately. (correct)

e.g. The man took the money from the bag, so he ran away immediately. (correct)

e.g. The man took the money from the bag; he ran away immediately. (correct: use of the semi-colon to replace the comma)

e.g. After the man took the money from the bag, he ran away immediately. (correct: the first part of the sentence has now become a "dependent clause" with the addition of "after")


The Uses of the Present Perfect Tense

Tenses are used in the English language to indicate the time or sequence of events.

The Present Perfect Tense is used to indicate:

A past action continuing into the present

e.g. The man has stayed in that country for two years. (He went to that country two years ago, and now he is still there.)

A past action with a present result

e.g. Where is the money? The man has taken the money. (The man took the money, and that is why now there is no money.)

The Eight Parts of Speech – Noun

There are eight parts of speech in English words, and noun is one of them.

noun names a person, place, or thing. A noun can be singular (referring to only one thing) or plural (referring to more than one thing). Generally, you make a singular noun plural by adding an “s”; however, some do not follow this general rule: e.g. enemy (enemies); goose (geese); hero (heroes); sheep (sheep) etc. Some nouns are countable, e.g. books, while some are not, e.g. hunger.

noun can be possessive (indicating ownership).

e.g. Tom and Jerry’s house (NOT Tom’s and Jerry’s house)

e.g. Jesus’ sayings (NOT Jesus’s sayings)

e.g. the bottom of the page (NOT the page’s bottom)

e.g. the characters of Star Wars (NOT Star Wars' characters)

A noun MUST AGREE with a verb in a sentence, that is, a singular noun requires a singular verb, and a plural noun requires a plural verb. Some nouns may look plural, but they can carry a singular verb.

e.g. Statistics is an interesting subject.

e.g. Important statistics are obtained from the census.

e.g. The majority of the students have good grades.

e.g. The majority is opposed to film censorship.

A noun MUST AGREE with a verb in a sentence, that is, a singular noun requires a singular verb, and a plural noun requires a plural verb.

e.g. The data here are (NOT is) incorrect. (data is the plural form of datum).

e.g. Human rights is important issue in this country. (singular: treated as a unit)

e.g. Human rights are ignored in many parts of the world. (plural: individual rights of people)

e.g. Five thousand dollars is a lot of money. (singular: a monetary unit)


Stephen Lau

Read my book Effective Writing Made Simple. To download the Amazon Kindle edition for only $4.40, click here; to purchase the paperback edition for only $7.00, click here; to download the e-book for only $4.40 from ClickBank, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Learn Some Difficult-But-Common Words You Should Know (1)

Focus on learning some of the most popularly used difficult-but-common words in the English language. The objective here is to familiarize yourself with the most common senses of the difficult words you are most likely to come across. (1)


Opulent: having wealth and luxury

e.g. Now that he had filed for bankruptcy, it would be difficult for him to maintain his opulent lifestyle.

Insolent: rude and disrespectful

e.g. He was simply offering his advice out of goodwill, but your response was insolent and inappropriate.

Malleable: easily adaptable or changeable

e.g. In this economic environment, people are malleable to economic reforms.

Emanate: come from a source

e.g. The sounds emanating from next door were so disturbing that we finally called the police.

Flaunt: to show off in an ostentatious way

e.g. Nobody likes her because she is always flaunting her wealth in her jewels and her furs.

Homage: high respect or honor

e.g. Even the Queen paid homage to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country.

Contrition: sadness or remorse over past wrong actions

e.g. The judge gave him the maximum sentence because he showed no contrition even when confronted by his victims.

Baneful: harmful or destructive influence

e.g. The custody of the children was taken from the parents because of the baneful influence of their lifestyle on their children.

Fledgingyoung and inexperienced.

e.g. As a fledging reporter, he was quite nervous when he interviewed the President.

Catch-22: an impossible situation, a predicament

e.g. He found himself in a catch-22: he could not stay, but he did not have the means to leave.

Debaclea complete failure

e.g. The bailout, to many, was a financial debacle.

Obliqueindirect or unclear.

e.g. The young man’s testimony was oblique to be of any use as a witness for the police.

Consternationsudden amazement.

e.g. The plunge of the Dow Jones Industrial Average caused a great deal of consternation in the financial markets worldwide.

Incorrigibleincapable of being reformed (often used in a lighthearted, ironic sense).

e.g. You’re incorrigible, forever getting into scrapes and causing mischief.

Elucidate: explain in full or make clear

e.g. To throw more light on the issue, the President began to elucidate his statement.

Cumbersomehard to manage, or troublesome

e.g. The task of tidying up the entire basement is not only exhaustive but also cumbersome to a nine-year-old kid.

Incognito: hidden or unknown with the purpose of intentionally changing appearance.


e.g. Many movie stars wear dark sunglasses in hopes of remaining incognito at public places.

Nether: lower, such as the nether regions of something are the parts that lie beneath or beyond the main part.

e.g. Dante takes the reader on a journey to the nether regions of hell.

Clandestinesecretive or kept hidden from authorities.

e.g. Nowadays, terrorists may use the Internet for their clandestine communication with one another.

Déjà vu (pronounced as day-zhuh VOO): (French) something “already seen” in the past.

e.g. If you still remember the decoration and design of last year's exhibition, you will have a sense of deja vu when visiting this year's exhibition.


Stephen Lau

Read my book Effective Writing Made Simple. To download the Amazon Kindle edition for only $4.40, click here; to purchase the paperback edition for only $7.00, click here; to download the e-book for only $4.40 from ClickBank, click here.