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.

Friday, November 2, 2018

My New Book on the Miracle of Living




This newly published book is about the miracle of living.

“Anything” may be “everything” to you, but not to others, and vice-versa. That may explain the some of the difficulties in human relationships. Life is difficult because it is all about you, and not about others. Let go of “anything is everything” to you if you focus more on others as well.

“Everything is nothing” is a universal truth: nothing lasts, no matter how we wish they were permanent. Many of us are reluctant to accept this universal truth of the impermanence of all things in this world.



“Nothing is everything” is enlightenment of the human mind, which is profound understanding of the ultimate truths of self, of others, and of the world around.

This 100-page book explains with many real-life examples to illustrate the perceptions of “anything is everything”, “everything is nothing”, and “nothing is everything”—based on the ancient Chinese wisdom and the Biblical wisdom.

Get the wisdom to live your life as if everything is a miracle.

Click here to get your paperback copy.

Click here to get your digital copy.


Here is the outline of the book:



INTRODUCTION

ONE: ANYTHING IS EVERYTHING

The Meanings and the Interpretations
A Frog in a Well
Human Wisdom and Spiritual Wisdom
Oneness with All Life
Love and Forgiveness
Gratitude and Generosity
Sympathy and Empathy
Compassion and Loving Kindness

TWO: EVERYTHING IS NOTHING

Understanding Is Everything
The Mind and the Ego
Attachments and Illusions
Control and Power
Detachment and Letting Go
Impermanence and Emptiness

THREE: NOTHING IS EVERYTHING

The Paradox
The Way
The Miracle
The Enlightenment

APPENDIX A: TAO TE CHING
APPENDIX B: MINDFULNESS
APPENDIX C: MEDITATION
APPENDIX D: WORDS OF WISDOM
APPENDIX E: ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Monday, October 8, 2018

Words Frequently Misused


Writing is made up of words. The first requirement of writing English is to learn some English words every day to build up your vocabulary -- you may have to know at least a few thousand words before you can write effectively.

Learning vocabulary may look daunting to you (you may not know the word daunting, but most probably you can still guess that it means something like "difficult"; that is how you learn a new work  by relating it to the context in a sentence), but you have to learn it cumulatively, that is, learning a few words every day. 

Corporal / Corporeal

Corporal means related to the body; corporeal means bodily and not spiritual.

e.g. Corporal punishment is no longer acceptable in schools.
e.g. We should be more concerned with our spiritual rather than our corporeal welfare.

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 collected.

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.

Deplete / Replete

Deplete means to empty; replete means to be filled with.

e.g. My illness might have depleted me of energy and strength.
e.g. Your garage is replete with garden tools.

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.)

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.

Prepossessing / Preposterous

Prepossessing means very 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!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 4, 2018

American Idioms


Act one’s age: behave maturely

e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.

Play the field: date many different people at the same time
e.g. He wanted to play the field while he was still young.
Plead/take the Fifth (the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution): not to incriminate oneself
e.g. After consulting with his lawyer, he decided to take the Fifth.
Call someone on the carpet: scold or reprimand

e.g. If you late for work one more time, the manager will call you on the carpet.

Full of crap: talking nonsense all the time

e.g. I don’t like your friend; he’s full of crap.

Lead someone astray: cause someone to do something wrong or illegal

e.g. If you are always in the company of lawbreakers, you  may be easily be led astray.

Pass the hat: collect money for

e.g. He is always passing the hat for something.

Pop the question: propose to marry
e.g. Now that you’ve got the ring; when are you going to pop the question?

No can do: impossible

e.g. He asked me for more money. I told him no can do.

Bag your face: shut up!

e.g. You and your loud mouth! Go and bag your face!

One’s days are numbered: about to die or to be dismissed

e.g. The manager doesn’t like her.  I would say her days are numbered.

Occur to someone: come to mind

e.g. It never occurred to me that I would fail my driving test.

Live beyond one’s means: spend more than one can earn

e.g. You are in debt because you are living beyond your means.

Pain in the neck: annoyance

e.g. You are pain in the neck, always complaining about this and that.

Over the hump: overcome the most difficult part

e.g. We are now over the hump; the rest may not be that difficult.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, October 1, 2018

The English Sentence Patterns


In English, the number of sentences is infinite. However, within this infinity, there are FIVE patterns:

Subject + verb

e.g. An accident happened.
            (subject) (verb)

Subject + verb + object (direct)

e.g. The man took the money.
              (s)     (v)         (o)

Subject + verb + object (indirect) + object (direct)

e.g. The man give me the money.
               (s)   (v)   (o)       (o)

Subject + verb + complement (of the subject)

e.g. She is pretty.
       (s) (v) (c)

Subject + verb + object + complement (of the object) 

e.g. They elected him President.
       (s)     (v)       (o)   (c)

e.g. They made her unhappy.
       (s)     (v)     (o)  (c)

Sir Winston Churchill once said that the English sentence is a "noble thing." As such, in order to write an effective sentence, one must know what an English sentence is.

A sentence is for communicating a complete thought, a command, a question, or an exclamation.

    e.g. I love you.
    e.g. Take it.
    e.g. Is it right?
    e.g. How wonderful!

In most cases, a sentence requires at least one subject-verb combination (e.g. I came.); in some cases, a sentence can be a single word (e.g. Help!).

The basic sentence pattern or sentence structure is made up of a subject and a verb:

           Subject                 Verb
           Birds                     sing

But you can add single descriptive words (modifiers) to add more meaning to the basic sentence pattern. These words can be: an article (a, an, the); an adjective (a word to describe the noun or subject); an adverb (a word to describe the verb).

e.g. The (specify which birds) yellow birds (the color of the birds) sing beautifully. (how they sing)

You can add a phrase (made up of two or more words with no subject-verb combination) to make the sentence longer. There are different types of phrases:

an infinitive phrase: to + verb e.g. to do the work, to play the piano

participle phrase: present participle/past participle + noun, e.g. playing the piano, the broken window

prepositional phrase: under the table, in the beginning

You can add a clause (made up of words with a subject-verb combination) to make the sentence longer. There are two different types of clauses:

an independent clause: communicating a complete thought, e.g. The man was singing.

dependent clause: describing another clause, and not communicating a complete thought, e.g. When the man was singing (what happened?)

You can change sentences into different types by adding different clauses:

The simple sentence: one independent clause making one complete thought, e.g. The man was singing.

The compound sentence: more than one complete thought, with two or more independent clauses, e.g. The man was singing and the children were dancing.

The complex sentence: one independent clause with one or more dependent clauses, e.g. The man was singing (independent clause), when the children were dancing (dependent clause).

The compound complex sentence: two independent clauses with one or more dependent clauses, e.g. The man was singing (independent clause) and the children were dancing (independent clause) when the light suddenly went out.

Effective writing is the use of different types of sentences (simple, compound, complex, compound complex) to give variety. In addition, vary the sentence length to avoid monotony in writing.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
       

Monday, September 24, 2018

Confusing Words


In the English language, there are many words that look similar and can be confusing, especially to ESL learners. 

DEPLETE / REPLETE
Deplete means to empty; replete means to be filled with.

e.g. The workload has depleted me of energy and strength.
e.g. Your garage is replete with garden tools.

COMMON COMMONPLACE 
Common means shared or used by many; commonplace means ordinary and not very interesting.

e.g. To be healthy and wealthy is a common New Year’s resolution.
e.g. Running may be a commonplace sport for many. 

SEDATIVE / SEDENTARY

Sedative: calming or soothing. Sedentary: accustomed to sitting; physically inactive.

e.g. The doctor gave her some sedative medicine to put her to sleep.
e.g His sedentary work -- sitting in front of the computer -- took a toll on his health.
e.g. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle even if you are approaching 60..

GENTEEL / GENTLE
Genteel: well-bred, polite; imitating the lifestyle of the rich. Gentle: kind, friendly, mild.

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.
e.g. Be gentle to my puppy.


ARISE / RISE
Arise: appear; begin. Rise: appear above the horizon; get out of bed.

e.g. When he was just about to call 911, a few men in uniform arose.
e.g. The sun rises in the east.
e.g. He rises very early every morning.

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

e.g. I must say that was an ingenious way to steal the money.
e.g. His response was sincere and ingenuous.

WANDER / WONDER
Wander means to walk aimlessly; wonder means to consider or question some issue.

e.g. The hiker lost his direction and wandered in the forest for some hours.
e.g. I wondered if he would come to the birthday party. 

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, September 10, 2018

Choosing the Right Words



Writing is made up of words. Effective writing requires having a good stock of vocabulary, as well as selecting the most suitable words and phrases to express the  intended ideas.

Remember, words are neither effective nor ineffective; they just impart different meanings to the sentences in which they are used. It is the writer's effective use of words and phrases that makes sentences effective or ineffective.

The English language is made up of nearly a million words and phrases. A writer, especially one whose English is not his or her first language, may face two major problems in writing: not knowing "enough" words; and not knowing how to choose the "right" words. 

Circumspect / Circumstantial

Circumspect: means being careful and cautious of behavior; circumstantial: means giving full details.

e.g. You have to be very circumspect when you meet the Governor.

e.g. The prosecutor is looking at the police’s circumstantial report.

Instant / Instantaneous

Instant: means right away; instantaneous: means events happening at once.

e.g. I love instant coffee.

e.g. The air strike and the ground invasion were instantaneous.
I 
Accountable to / Accountable for

Accountable to: means responsible to someone; accountable for: means responsible for something or having to explain.

e.g. The Manager has to be accountable to the Board; he has to be accountable for all his business decisions.

Real / Really

Real is an adjective; really is an adverb.


e.g. The firefighter was really brave when he saved the child; he demonstrated real courage.

Right / Rightly

Right: immediately; rightly: justly, correctly.

e.g.  Don't wait! Do it right now!

e.g. You will get your money right away.

e.g. I rightly canceled the trip: a storm was coming

e.g. We refused the offer, and rightly so because it was a bad deal.


Mediate / Meditate

Mediateact as a peacemaker; meditate: think deeply.

e.g. The Secretary of State is trying to mediate between the two warring nations.

e.g. He meditated revenge after he was insulted by his coworkers.

  
Stephen Lau


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Frequently Misused Words

Here are some of the frequently misused words:

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

e.g. You are most welcome.
e.g. You were welcomed by all of us in front of the house.

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.

Decorative / Decorous
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 movie star looks decorous in that simple but elegant dress.

Foul / Fowl
Foul means dirty or offensive.

e.g. The smoke from that factory fouls the air. (as a verb)
e.g. He always speak foul language, even in the presence of ladies. (as an adjective)

Fowl is a bird, such as hen.

e.g. We are going to have a roast fowl for Thanksgiving.

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

e.g. He made no pretense to like her (He did not pretend that he liked her).
e.g. She made no pretension to that award. (She did not say she got that award)

Terminable Terminal
Terminable: can be ended.

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

Terminal: at the end.

e.g. The doctor told the patient that she had terminal cancer.

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

e.g. Your friend is genteel. Is he really rich?
e.g. All along he has been living in genteel poverty. He is not practical.

Gentle:  soft and well-behaved.

e.g. He is a gentleman: he is especially gentle with the ladies.

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

e.g. I must say that was an ingenious way to steal the money.
e.g. His response was sincere and ingenuous.

Lose Loose
Lose means being unable to find.

e.g. Here is your ticket to the game; don't lose it.
e.g. Don't lose your temper (become angry).

Loose means to set free or to become less tight.

e.g. You are too loose with your children (you have little or no control over them).

Bulk / Hulk
Bulk: in large quantities; the greater part of.

e.g. His business was selling brown rice 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.

Some time / Sometime / Sometimes
Some time means a period of time.

e.g. We have been waiting for the bus for some time.

Sometime, as an adverb, means approximately; as an adjective, means former or occasional.

e.g. She was my sometime girlfriend.
e.g. Why don't you visit me sometime?

Sometimes, as an adverb, means now and then.

e.g. Sometimes we are on good terms, and sometimes we are not -- that's our relationship.

Providing that / Provided that
Providing that is incorrect.

e.g. You can go out to play provided (that) you have finished your home work.
e.g. You can keep the book for another week providing that no one has reserved it (incorrect: provided that should be used instead).

Accountable to
 / Accountable for
Accountable to someone; accountable for something
 (meaning "responsible for").

e.g. The Manager has to be accountable to the Board; he has to be accountable for all his business decisions.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau