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.

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Choosing the Right Words

     its and it’s

e.g. The tree had most of its branches chopped off. (possessive of it )

e.g. It’s wrong to do this! (it is)

     lay and lie

e.g. Lie down and take a nap! (repose; rest)

e.g. Yesterday, I lay down for a nap. (past tense of lie)

e.g. I have lain down every afternoon this week. (past participle of lie)

e.g. Just lay the magazine on the table. (put down)

e.g. I laid the magazine on this table yesterday. (past tense of lay)

     like and as

e.g. The plan turned out to be successful, just like I said it would. (WRONG: like is not a subordinating conjunction)

e.g. The plan turned out to be successful, just as I said it would. (RIGHT: as is a subordinating conjunction)

     literally and almost

e.g. I literally dropped on the floor. (according to the actual meaning of the word)

e.g. The man literally dropped dead. (actually died)

e.g. I almost dropped dead. (almost, but did not die)

     loath and loathe

e.g. I am loath (unwilling) to tell you that I loathe (despise; hate) your parents.

     oral and verbal

e.g. I will give an oral presentation tomorrow. (spoken)

e.g. That was a verbal attack on my character (in words, either spoken or written)

     passed and past

e.g. I passed the exam with flying colors.

e.g. He ran past me. (beyond)

Past is never used as a verb.

     permissible and permissive

e.g. It is permissible to end a sentence with a preposition. (permitted)

e.g. They are very permissive parents, who do not even stop their teenagers from taking drugs. (permitting; liberal-minded)

     precede and proceed

e.g. This ceremony will precede the event. (go before)

e.g. Before we proceed, we must be prepared. (move forward)

    pretence and pretension

 Pretence means “make-believe”; pretension means “claim.”

e.g. The patient made a pretence to faint. (pretending)

e.g. I made no pretension to authorship of that article.

     principal and principle

e.g. Did you meet the new principal of our school? (head of a school)

e.g. Integrity is an important principle in life. (basic truth)

    purposely and purposefully

Purposely means “deliberately”; purposefully means “in a determined   manner.”

e.g. He purposely broke the chair to show his anger.

e.g. He began the project purposefully and without delay.

     rebut and refute

e.g. The attorney is going to rebut his opponent’s arguments. (speak or write against)

e.g. The judge has decided to refute the arguments. (disapprove)

     regretfully and regrettably

e.g. I regretfully told him that the plan did not work. (with regret)

e.g. Regrettably, the plan did not work. (unfortunately)

     reticent and reluctant

e.g. He was reticent (unwilling to talk) about his reluctance (noun of reluctant: unwillingness) to discuss the tragedy. 

     sensual and sensuous

Sensual means “appealing to the body, especially pleasures, such as sex”; sensuous refers to the pleasure of the senses.

e.g. The film was filled with sensual images of sex.

e.g. I stretched myself with sensuous pleasure in the warm tropical sun.

     some time, sometime, sometimes

e.g. I will see you sometime this week. (unspecified time)

e.g. Some time passed before the police came. (a span of time)

e.g. Sometimes I feel sick. (at times; not always)

     stationary and stationery

e.g. Before school starts, students need to get all their stationery. (pens, pencils, paper, etc.)

e.g. The bus is now stationary: you can get off. (not moving)

     use and utilize

e.g. You can utilize your abilities in this job. (make good use of, or else it will be wasted)

e.g. Use your brain!

     whose and who’s

e.g. Whose book is this? (who owns this book?)

e.g. Who’s going to tell me the truth? (who is)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Learn Some Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Learn some slang and colloquial expressions:

Take it on the chin: accept without evasion.
e.g. You were yelling at him; he took it on the chin, without a word.

Darned sight more: a lot more.
e.g. "Do you think he should put more effort on this?" "A darned sight more!

Take the rap: take the blame or responsibility of another person.

e.g. If you want to do it, go ahead, but I'm not going to take the rap.

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

Taken short: in need of urination.
e.g. I was taken short, and I rushed to the bathroom before I could finish the talk.

Alive and kicking: in good health.
"How is she doing?" "Very much alive and kicking."

Drive up the wall: irritate intensely.
e.g. Don't drive me up the wall every time I see you.

Talk through the back of one's neck: talk nonsense.
e.g. Look what he's doing: talking through the back of his neck.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau