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, April 26, 2018

Know the Difference


Precede and Proceed

Precede: go before
e.g. The speech is going to precede the performance.

Proceed: keep on going
e.g. Proceed with the plan until you receive instruction to stop.

Amused and Bemused

Amused: entertain
e.g. We were amused by your wonderful performance.

Bemused; bewildered or confused
e.g. The reporters were totally bemused by that contradictory information from the White House.

Allude and Elude

Allude: refer to
e.g. The witness was trying to allude to what another witness had said.

Elude: escape
e.g. The defendant was trying to elude the question from the prosecutor.

Farther and Further

Farther: at a greater physical distance
e.g. This place is farther away from your parents’ home.

Further: at a greater figurative distance
e.g. His explanation is further from the truth.

Ascent and Assent

Ascent: rise to
e.g. The dictator’s ascent to power was sudden and swift.

Assent: agreement
e.g. There was little assent between the Democrats and the Republicans on this issue.

Formally and Formerly

Formally: officially
e.g. The manager formally announced your promotion.

Formerly: previously
e.g. He was formerly the President of this company.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 23, 2018

Learn American Idioms


As different as day and night: very different
e.g. My brother and I are twins, but we are as different as day and night.

More than meets the eye: there is a hidden meaning
e.g. What the Mayor mentioned in the speech implied more than meets the eye.

Down and out: very poor
e.g. He is down and out without a job and a roof over his head.

No flies on: very alert, smart
e.g. You cannot trick her; there are no flies on her.

In fine feather: in good condition; in good health
e.g. With a good night sleep, I am in fine feather today.

All of it: the best
e.g. From the way he presented him at the debate, he was all of it.

Name of the game: the main goal
e.g. The name of the game is winning; we must win this election no matter what.

As easy as pie: very easy
e.g. Cooking a turkey is as easy as pie.

Face the music: confront danger; accept a bad situation
e.g. There are many circumstances in life in which you have to face the music.

Feel like: have a desire for something
e.g. I feel like eating a hamburger.

All in a day’s work: part of daily work
e.g. I don’t like to cook, but it’s all in a day’s work.

All systems are go: everything is good and ready as planned
e.g. Everything is in order, and all systems are go. We can now launch the rocket.

Dance to another tune: change to a different attitude or behavior
e.g. If your parents were here, you would dance to another tune.

A little bird told me: somehow I knew
e.g. “How did you know what I did?” “Well, a little bird told me.”

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, April 20, 2018

Learn How to Punctuate

To write well, you need to know how to punctuate your sentences.

Commas and full-stops (periods) are most often used.

You use commas to separate compound sentences. A compound sentence is made up of 2 or more simple sentences. First of all, a simple sentence has a subject, a verb, and or an object.

e.g. He laughed. (simple sentence: subject + verb)
e.g. He laughed at me. (simple sentence: subject + verb + object)
e.g. He left the room. (simple sentence: subject + verb + object)
e.g. I was all by myself. (simple sentence: subject + verb+ complement)

However, you cannot join two or more simple sentences together without a coordinating conjunction (andbutornorforso, yet)

e.g. He laughed at me, he left the room. (incorrect: there is no coordinating conjunction)
e.g. He laughed at me, and (he) left the room.(correct)
e.g. After he laughed at mehe left the room.(correct: "he laughed at me" becomes a subordinate clause and no longer a simple sentence with the addition of the subordinating conjunction "after")
e.g. He laughed at meleft the room, and I was all by myself. (correct)

You may or may not need a comma for a compound or complex sentence. A complex sentence is made up of a simple sentence and one or more subordinate clauses (a subordinate clause is an incomplete sentence joined to a simple sentence by a subordinating conjunction, such as afterwhensince etc.

e.g. He saw me and he shook my hands. (a compound sentence joining 2 simple sentences by a coordinating conjunction: "and": " he saw me" and "he shook my hands")

A comma before and is optional. If you think the sentence is too long or the meaning is misleading, you may want to add a comma.

By the same token, if you think the complex sentence is too long, then you may want to add a comma.

e.g. When he saw me walking with the Mayor along the corridor, he shook my hands.
e.g. He shook my hands when he saw me. (without the comma)

I hope you have learned the following: a simple sentence, a compound sentence, a coordinating clause, a subordinating clause, and the use of comma.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Use Tenses Correctly

To write well, you need to know how to use English tenses correctly. Tenses are difficult to many because in many languages tenses are not used to express "time" or the "relationship of sequence"; instead, adverbs, such as "yesterday", "tomorrow", "soon" etc. are used.

To learn how to use English tenses correctly, you must have a perception of the "time" element.
Let's take a looks at present tense, present continuous tensepresent perfect tensepast tense, and past perfect tense with the following examples:

PAST<----------------------------------------------------->PRESENT

lived in Texas.   *                            

had lived in Texas for more than 20 years.  *****       

I moved to Ohio 5 years ago.  *                                  Now, I live in Ohio.

                                                                                     I am living in Ohio. **

                                                                     I have lived in Ohio for 5 years. *****

"I lived in Texas" (past tense): an action in the past; it was a fact. (*)

"I had lived in Texas for more than 20 years." (past perfect tense): an action that "continued" (****)for some time in the past.
"I moved to Ohio 5 years ago" (past tense): an action in the past; it was a fact (*)

"Now I live in Ohio." (present tense): an action in the present; it is a fact. (*)

"I am living in Ohio." (present continuous tense): an action in the present, and it may continue for some time into the near future.**

"I have lived in Ohio for 5 years." (present perfect tense): an action in the past that has continued into the present, and will probably continue into the near future. *****

Hopefully, the above examples have demonstrated how you should use some of the English tenses correctly.

Stephen Lau

Read my book Effective Writing Made Simple. Click here for the digital, and here for the paperback edition.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Learn Some American Idioms

Idioms are words and phrases in a language that have come into existence for a variety of reasons, some obvious enough, some inexplicable, but most of them appropriately and delightfully characteristic of the race that created them. American idioms are no exception; they reflect American culture at every social level. They are used in everyday life, in speaking and in writing, in movies and on television, and by people from all walks of life.

Through thick and thin: through good times as well as bad times
e.g. Don’t worry! I’ll stick by you through thick and thin.

Meet someone halfway: compromise
e.g. He settled the agreement with her by meeting her halfway.

Name of the game: the main goal

e.g. The name of the game is winning; we must win this election no matter what.

Dog in the manger: a very selfish person
e.g. Don’t be a dog in the manger! You no longer need this; why don’t you give it to us?

Act one’s age: behave maturely
e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.

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.

Late in the day: kind of late
e.g. Don’t you think it’s late in the day to change your tactics?

First and last: above all; under all circumstances
e.g. She was an accomplished pianist first and last.

Hit like a ton of bricks: surprise or shock
e.g. The sudden resignation of the President hit the people like a ton of bricks.

Go the distance: do the whole thing
e.g. This is a long, complicated project. To succeed, you must go the distance.

For a song: inexpensive
e.g. You can get this on the Internet for a song.

Pull the wool over someone’s eyes: deceive
e.g. Don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes: I wasn’t born yesterday.

Take som
 ething on the chin: get a direct blow
e.g. The bad news was a shock to me; I took it on the chin.

Hold one’s end up: do one’s part; reliable
e.g. I know I can count on you; you always hold your end up.

Hit the nail on the head: do exactly the right thing
e.g. Your remark hit the nail on the head; that was precisely the solution to the problem.

Visit my website: Health and Wisdom Tips 


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sentence Errors to Avoid

Double Negatives

e.g. I didn’t see nobody. (incorrect)

I didn’t see anybody. (correct)

e.g. We are not going nowhere. (incorrect)

We are not going anywhere. (correct).

e.g. There isn't no money left. (incorrect)

There isn't any money left. (correct)

Omission of Key Verbs

e.g. The room was cleaned, and the curtains washed. (incorrect)

The room was cleaned, and the curtains were washed. (correct)

e.g. I never have, and never will do such a thing. (incorrect)

e.g. I never have done, and never will do such a thing. (correct)

Omission of Words in Comparison

e.g. His performance was better. (incorrect)

His performance was better than that (i.e. the performance) of the other candidates. (correct)

e.g. Your hands are bigger than any man that I know of. (incorrect)

e.g. You hands are bigger than those (i.e. the hands) of any man that I know of. (correct)
               
Dangling Participles

e.g. Walking down the street, the City Hall could be seen. (incorrect)

Walking down the street, we could see the City Hall. (correct)

e.g. By exercising every day, your health will improve. (incorrect)

By exercising every day, you will improve your health. (correct)

Misuse of Dependent Clauses

e.g. Because he had no money was the reason he stayed at home. (incorrect)

He stayed at home because he had no money. (correct)

Because he had no money, he stayed at home. (correct)

Having no money was the reason he stayed at home. (correct)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

American Idioms


Learn some common everyday American expressions.

You could have fooled me: I would have thought otherwise.
e.g. "We're not getting along well; we've too many differences." "You could have fooled me! I thought the two of you are cut out for each other."

What gives?: what's wrong? what's the problem?
e.g. "You were screaming at each other. What gives?"

Get right on it: do it immediately.
e.g. "Can you help me with this software?" "I'll get right on it."

Search me: I don't know; I don't have the answer.
e.g. "Do you know the author of this quotation?" "Search me."

You don't know the half of it: it is worse than what you think.
e.g. "The company is having some financial problems." "You don't know the half of it. I tell you what; it might even go bankrupt."

Says who?: who do you think you are to say that?
e.g. "I heard you were reprimanded by your boss for being late again." "Says who?"

You said a mouthful: you said what needs to be said.
e.g. "The movie was disappointing: the story was uninteresting; the acting was bad; and it was too long." "Yes, you said a mouthful!"

What would you say if: asking for an opinion; what about?
e.g. "I heard you were recently offered a job." "What would you say if I decline the offer?"

No sweat: it's ok; no problem.
e.g. "I'm sorry I'm late." "No sweat! We've all the time in the world."

What about it?
: so what?
e.g. "You were late for the meeting." "What about it? I didn't want to come in the first place."

Over my dead body: absolutely not!
e.g. "Can I come with you? " "Over my dead body!"

Knock it off: shut up!; be quiet.
e.g. "Knock it off! You and your big mouth!"

Can't beat that: no one can do better than that.
e.g. "Of all people, I finished the project in less than a week. Can't beat that."

It works for me: it's fine with me

No can do: I cannot do it..
e.g. "Can you do this now?" "No can do."

So much for that: that's the end of that
e.g. "Well, so much for that. I'm not going to get involved any more. That's it!"

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 2, 2018

Punctuate Your Sentences

To write well, you need to know how to punctuate your sentences.

Commas and full-stops (periods) are most often used.

You use commas to separate compound sentences. A compound sentence is made up of 2 or more simple sentences. First of all, a simple sentence has a subject, a verb, and or an object.

e.g. He laughed. (simple sentence: subject + verb)
e.g. He laughed at me. (simple sentence: subject + verb + object)
e.g. He left the room. (simple sentence: subject + verb + object)
e.g. I was all by myself. (simple sentence: subject + verb+ complement)

However, you cannot join two or more simple sentences together without a coordinating conjunction (andbutornorforso, yet)

e.g. He laughed at me, he left the room. (incorrect: there is no coordinating conjunction)
e.g. He laughed at me, and (he) left the room.(correct)
e.g. After he laughed at mehe left the room.(correct: "he laughed at me" becomes a subordinate clause and no longer a simple sentence with the addition of the subordinating conjunction "after")
e.g. He laughed at meleft the room, and I was all by myself. (correct)

You may or may not need a comma for a compound or complex sentence. A complex sentence is made up of a simple sentence and one or more subordinate clauses (a subordinate clause is an incomplete sentence joined to a simple sentence by a subordinating conjunction, such as afterwhensince etc.

e.g. He saw me and he shook my hands. (a compound sentence joining 2 simple sentences by a coordinating conjunction: "and": " he saw me" and "he shook my hands")

A comma before and is optional. If you think the sentence is too long or the meaning is misleading, you may want to add a comma.

By the same token, if you think the complex sentence is too long, then you may want to add a comma.

e.g. When he saw me walking with the Mayor along the corridor, he shook my hands.
e.g. He shook my hands when he saw me. (without the comma)

I hope you have learned the following: a simple sentence, a compound sentence, a coordinating clause, a subordinating clause, and the use of comma.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau