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.

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Be Concise and Precise in Your Writing


Be Concise and Precise in Your Choice of Words


Do not use a phrase if a word will do:

e.g. Many students have a tendency to skim through the instructions on the test.

e.g. Many students tend to skim through the instructions on the test. (better)

e.g. I will show you the way in which to do it.

e.g. I will show you the way to do it. (better)

 e.g. I will show you how to do it. (better)

e.g. The Senate did not pass the bill due to the fact that it was unconstitutional.

 e.g. The Senate did not pass the bill because it was unconstitutional. (better)

e.g. You should take the advice given to you by your doctor.

e.g. You should take your doctor’s advice. (better)

e.g. I was supportive of your decision.

 e.g. I supported your decision. (better)

e.g. The man conducted himself with irrational behavior.

 e.g. The man behaved irrationally. (better)

Do not say the obvious:

e.g. Her hat was red in color.

e.g. Her hat was red. (better)

e.g. The basketball player was tall in height.

e.g. The basketball player was tall. (better)

Avoid unnecessary adjectives, nouns, or adverbs:

e.g. These are vital essentials of life.

e.g. These are essentials of life. (better)

e.g. Do not question his technique employed.

e.g. Do not question his technique. (better)

e.g. There is too much danger involved.

e.g. There is too much danger. (better)

e.g. The Congress would make decisions about changing the Constitution.

e.g. The Congress would decide on changing the Constitution. (better)

e.g. You committed an act of violence.

e.g. You committed violence. (better)

e.g. It took a long period of time.

e.g. It took a long time. (better)

e.g. It was clearly evident that he took the money.

e.g. It was evident that he took the money. (better)

e.g. Evidently, he took the money. (better)

Avoid constructions with it is … and there are …

e.g. It is truth that will prevail.

e.g. Truth will prevail. (better)

e.g. There were many people inside the cinema when the bomb exploded.

e.g. Many people were inside the cinema when the bomb exploded. (better)


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, September 17, 2018

Brainstorming Your Writing

Beginning to write begins with an idea or a topic you want to share with or to communicate to others.

Choice

You must have an inordinate interest in that idea or topic for various reasons: you are passionate about it; you strongly believe it is right or wrong; you want to analyze or discuss it in detail; you wish others may share  or even support your views. Or, simply, you may not have a choice: you have been assigned to write about the subject.

Brainstorming

You must brainstorm that idea or topic. Your mind may come up with many thoughts about that idea or topic. You jot down all your relevant thoughts simply by asking yourself some relevant questions regarding what you are going to write about:

What happened?

How did it happen?

When did it happen?

Why did it happen?

What does it mean?

What is its significance?

What is it similar to?

What is it different from? 

Is it true or false?

Are there examples?

What do people think?

Who do you think?

Keep a journal for your brainstorming. The word “journal” comes from French, meaning “daily.” A journal is a day-to-day record of what you see, do, hear, think, and feel. Use a journal to jot down any idea that comes to your mind. Regular recording enhances your power of observation, which improves your writing skill.

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