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.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Learning Grammar - ADVERBS

An adverb modifies an action or an adjective.

Adverbs are often formed by adding "ly" to an adjective.

e.g. He sings beautifully.

e.g. Please talk slowly.

e.g. She is driving carefully.

Some adverbs take the comparative and superlative forms with more and most.

e.g. My father walks more slowly than my mother (does).

e.g. He is the most talented student in the class.

Exceptions to the rule are: fast, faster, fastest; hard, harder, hardest; soon, sooner, soonest.

e.g. I can run faster (not more fast) than you (do).

e.g. She is the hardest working student in the class.

e.g. We can get  there soonest by plane.

Certain adjectives do not require adverbs to modify them.

e.g. essential (NOT absolutely essential: essential means “absolutely necessary”)

e.g. unique (NOT most unique or extremely unique: unique means “one of a kind”)

e.g. universe (NOT most universal: there is only one universe.)


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, October 30, 2015

Learning Grammar -- PRONOUNS

A pronoun is a word that stands for a noun. Effective use of pronouns gives flexibility in your writing.

e.g. The manager left for New York. He took a train.

e.g. I bought a winter coat. It cost me one humdred dollars.

Relative pronouns (who, whom, which, that) introduce clauses that describe nouns or pronouns. These relative clauses can be restrictive (i.e. containing essential information), or non-restrictive (i.e. containing only additional but non-essential information).

Compare the following pairs of sentences:

e.g. The man who shot the policeman was an illegal immigrant. (correct)

The relative clause above identifies the van, and therefore is essential to meaning of the sentence.

e.g. The man, who shot the policeman, was an illegal immigrant..(incorrect)

The non-restrictive relative clause above provides only additional information. The use of a non-restrictive clause with the two commas further implies that it can be deleted; however, without who shot the policeman, the sentence would not make much sense. unless you would emphasize the fact that he was an illegal immigrant. 
e.g. The reporter who took the photos is now being sued for invasion of privacy. (correct)

The relative clause above is restrictive because it identifies the reporter being sued.

e.g. The reporter, who took the photos, is now being sued for invasion of privacy. (correct)

The relative clause above becomes non-restrictive with the addition of two commas, and who took the photos becomes extra information non-essential to the meaning of the sentence. The sentence without the non-restrictive clause who took the photos would still make sense, and therefore is correct as it stands.

Knowing the difference between a restrictive and non-restrictive relative clause will help you in effective sentence construction.

Incorrect use of subjective pronouns is a common grammatical error.

e.g. My father and I went to see the show. (NOT me: both of us went to see the show)

e.g. It is I who made the decision. (NOT me: I made the decision.)

e.g. The real winners are we ourselves. (NOT us: we are the real winners.)

e.g. The man who called us was who? (NOT whom: who called us?)

e.g. The woman who lost her purse was she. (NOT her: she lost her purse.)

e.g. John and he went to the movie. (NOT him: both went to the movie.)

The correct use of pronouns can be difficult with certain expressions, such as, as and more than. The following pairs of sentences are correct, but the meaning is different.

e.g. She likes him more than I. (She likes him more than I like him.)

e.g. She likes him more than me. (She likes him more than she likes me.)

e.g. I like Peter better than she. (I like Peter better than she likes Peter.)

e.g. I like Peter better than her. (I like Peter better than I like her.)

Use possessive pronouns with gerunds (words ending in ing) correctly.

e.g. You don’t like my going to the movie by myself. (NOT me going: you don’t like the “going” not “me” the person.)

e.g. Your smirking irritates me. (NOT you smirking: not “you” but your “smirking” irritates me)

A pronoun must agree with its antecedent (the noun that a pronoun refers to).

e.g. All is well. (referring to the sum of all things)

e.g. All are well. (referring to a number of people)

e.g. Everyone wants to get his or her application submitted. (NOT their)

e.g. None of them is going to succeed. (NOT are: the subject is none)

e.g. Some is better than none. (referring to a quantity)

e.g. Some are good. (referring to a number of things)

(More on the other SEVEN PARTS OF SPEECH next time)


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Learning Grammar - ADJECTIVES and ADVERBS

Knowing grammatical terms is essential for effective writing because these grammatical terms provide a common language for discussing and talking about what is good and effective writing.

ADJECTIVES


An adjective describes a noun. Adjectives often give precision and meaning to sentences; in other words, they add color to your writing.

Beware: some words are both adjectives (describing nouns) and adverbs (modifying verbs).

e.g. This is hard work. (an adjective)

e.g. He works hard. (an adverb)

Linking verbs, such as be, become, look, seem, smell, taste, require the use of adjectives rather than adverbs.

e.g. He became angry. (NOT angrily)
e.g. He looked angrily at me. (it was the action expressed in the look)
e.g. He looked angry. (it was the expression, not the action)
e.g. She looks happy. (NOT happily)

e.g. The food smells wonderful. (NOT wonderfully)
e.g. The baby was smiling wonderfully

e.g. The wine tastes good. (NOT well)

Adverbs

An adverb modifies an action or an adjective.

Most adverbs take the comparative and superlative forms with more and most.

e.g. My father walks more slowly than my mother (does).

e.g. He is the most talented student in the class.

Exceptions to the rule are: fast, faster, fastest; hard, harder, hardest; soon, sooner, soonest.

          e.g. I can run faster than you (run).

         
Certain adjectives do not require adverbs to modify them.

e.g. essential (NOT absolutely essential: essential means “absolutely necessary”)

e.g. unique (NOT most unique or extremely unique: unique means “one of a kind”)

e.g. universe (NOT most universal: there is only one universe.)


More on other parts of speech next time.

EFFECTIVE WRITING MADE SIMPLE

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Learning Grammar - NOUNS

Learning a new language is never easy, especially if you want to master it. In some languages, there is no grammar; the written language is simply a reflection of the spoken language; in others, there are grammar rules to follow, and the English language is one of them.

Knowing the rules of grammar does not mean that you will become a good writer, but it will certainly help you avoid bad writing. In addition, knowing the essentials of grammar may give you the following advantages:

  • Avoiding grammatical errors

  • Providing clarity to your writing

  • Giving credibility to your readers
Knowing grammatical terms is essential for effective writing because these grammatical terms provide a common language for discussing and talking about what is good and effective writing.

Knowing grammar basics means knowing the eight parts of speech in English words and writing:


A noun names a person, place, or thing.

A noun can be singular (referring to only one) or plural (referring to more than one). Generally, you make a singular noun plural by adding an “s”; however, some nouns do not follow this general rule:

e.g. enemy becomes enemies

e.g. goose becomes geese

e.g. hero becomes heroes

e.g. sheep remains sheep

Some nouns are countable, e.g. books, while some are not, e.g. hunger.

A 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)

From the above, a possessive noun is applicable only to a person, and not a thing.

A noun MUST AGREE with a verb in a sentence, that is, a singular noun requiring a singular verb, and a plural noun requiring a plural verb. A singular verb in the present tense generally needs an “s”; of course, there are exceptions, such as the following:

e.g. The data indicate (NOT indicates) that there is a strong demand for this type of goods. (data is the plural form of datum.)

e.g. The criteria for selection are based (NOT is) on the recommendations of the trustees. (criteria is plural)

e.g. Human rights is an important issue in this country. (singular: human rights treated as a single unit and thus requiring a singular verb)

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

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

A proper noun names a specific person, place, or event, e.g. Tom Cruise, Chicago, and World War I.

A proper noun is always capitalized, e.g. The Great Depression (BUT an economic depression).

(More on the other SEVEN PARTS OF SPEECH next time)


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, March 20, 2015

Words Frequently Misused (8)

ARISE / RISE

Arise: appear; begin.
e.g. When he was just about to call 911, a few men in uniform arose.

Rise: appear above the horizon; get out of bed.
e.g. The sun rises in the east.
e.g. He rises very early every morning.

RUSTY / RUSTIC

Rusty: corrode (covered with rust); weaken.
e.g. The iron gate has become rusty.
e.g. My grandfather's memory has become rusty.
e.g. Please pardon my rusty French.

Rustic: like the countryside.
e.g. We all enjoyed the rustic views from hilltop.

MEDICATED / MEDICINAL

Medicated: containing medicine.
e.g. Please apply this medicated gauze onto your wound.

Medicinal: having the power to cure.
e.g. He took some medicinal herbs for his cold.

PREVENTABLE / PREVENTIVE

Preventable: can be avoided.
e.g. The accident was preventable if you were more cautious.

Preventive: protective.
e.g. These are preventive measures from head injury.

BULK / HULK

Bulk: in large quantities; the greater part of..
e.g. His business was selling wheat in bulk.
e.g. The billionaire gave the bulk of his estate to charity.

Hulk: a big, clumsy person.
e.g. If you do nothing to your obesity, you will soon become a hulk.

Stephen Lau


Monday, February 2, 2015

Words Frequently Confused and Misused

WET / WETTED

Wet is the present, past, and particle of “wet”; wetted, as the past and participle of “wet”, means something done deliberately and purposely.
e.g. The heavy rain last night wet the balcony completely.
e.g. He wetted the cloth in the hot water before putting it on his body.
e.g. They wetted the appetite of the guests with a fragrant soup.


DEFER / DEFER TO

Defer means to delay or postpone; defer to means to give way or show respect for.
e.g. I wish to defer my trip.
e.g. I defer to your request to cancel my trip.

PURPOSELY / PURPOSEFULLY

Purposely means deliberately; purposefully means in a determined way.
e.g. That guy purposely left the trash on the sidewalk.
e.g. The student purposefully worked on his project to get a better score for further advancement. 

COMMON SENSE / COMMONSENSE

Common sense is always put in two words. Use a hyphened compound work ass an adjective, and not as one single word.
e.g. Use your common sense when you do this.
e.g. This is just a common-sense approach to the problem.

ALLOW / ALLOW OF

Allow means permit; allow of means leave room for.
e.g. The new regulation will not allow you to do this.
e.g. The procedure is so precise that it will not allow of any variation.

Stephen Lau














Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Words Frequently Confused and Misused

Indispensable / Indisputable

Indispensable means absolutely necessary; indisputable means factual, without a doubt, and not arguable.

e.g. Air is indispensable to life.
e.g. It is indisputable that the verdict of the judge is final.

Prepossessing / Preposterous

Prepossessing means attractive or impressive; preposterous means absurd or contrary to reason.

e.g. She had put on a prepossessing dress to impress the audience.
e.g. You look preposterous in that ridiculous outfit!

Irritable / Irritant

Irritable means easily made angry; irritant means causing anger or discomfort.

e.g. He has a short temper and is easily irritable.
e.g. Nobody likes him because of his irritant behavior.

Preparation / Preparedness

Preparation means getting ready; preparedness is a state of being prepared.

e.g. The country's preparations for war are complete.
e.g. The country is in preparedness for war.

Inflammable / Inflammatory

Inflammable means easy to catch fire; inflammatory means causing unrest or bad feelings.

e.g. Be careful! This kind of material is inflammable.
e.g. The man's speech was not only anti-government but also inflammatory,

Stephen Lau