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 25, 2019

Learn Some Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Learn Some Slang and Colloquial Expressions 

Spill the beans: give information unintentionally.
e.g. "I told them that you will be on vacation next week." "It's supposed to be a secret. Well, you just spilled the beans.

Spitting image: exact image.
e.g. He has a spitting image of his brother: they are twins.

Bat along: move along smoothly.
e.g. This is not rush hour, and cars do bat along.

Bone-head: a simple-minded person
e.g. Don't be a bone-head! Do some thinking!

Blue pencil: censor.
e.g. The committee will blue pencil whatever you are going to say.

Hold one's horse: wait a minute; not immediately.
e.g. Dinner is ready, but hold your horse; wait for the host to come down!

In good nick: in good condition.
e.g. If I were you, I would buy this car; it's in good nick.

Boil over: become angry.
e.g.  Get away from him: he's boiling over with rage.

Put one's thinking cap on: seriously consider.
e.g. Well, I'll have to put my thinking cap on this before I can give you an answer.

Rake it in: earn money quickly.
e.g. If you invest in this, you can really rake it in.

Bone idle: very lazy.
e.g. She's bone idle: she never does any household chore.

Bone up on: study hard.
e.g. If you wish to pass your test, you'd better bone up on it.

Bowl over: overwhelm.
e.g. I was bowled over by all the information received at the seminar.

Pooped: exhausted.
e.g. What's the matter?  Everybody looks pooped today. We haven't even started the work!

Break down on: be a disadvantage for.
e.g. The new job broke down on me.

Breeze up: becoming frightened.
e.g. Whenever you mention terrorist attack, I have the breeze up.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Effective Paragraph

The Effective Paragraph

A paragraph is made up of sentences, which develop the topic sentence. A good paragraph must have three basic qualities: coherence, flow, and development.

Paragraph coherence

A coherent paragraph must satisfy two criteria: 


Every idea you express in the paragraph must be related to the topic. 


Every idea you express in the paragraph must be arranged in a sequence according to logic and importance.

Paragraph flow

The sentences within each paragraph should be appropriately linked, such that each statement connects with the one or ones preceding it.

Linking successive sentences within a paragraph is achieved by the following:

Using a pronoun whose antecedent appears in the previous sentence

e.g. I bought myself an expensive watch for the occasion. It cost me over one thousand dollars.

Repeating a key word used in previous sentence or sentences

e.g. I bought myself an expensive watch for the occasion. That watch cost me over one thousand dollars.

Using a synonym

e.g. Women attach much importance to physical beauty. To many women, looks are everything.

Using word patterns, such as first, second, third

e.g. There were several reasons for the failure of the project. First, the preparation was inadequate. Second, there was insufficient money. Third, the timing was inappropriate.

Using transitional words, such as accordingly, afterwards, as a result, below, consequently, for example, furthermore, however, in fact, therefore, etc.

e.g. The student has set his goal to pass his test this time. Accordingly, he is working extra hard.

e.g. We did not have adequate preparation. As a result, we were unable to deal with many unforeseeable problems.

e.g. The castle stood at the top of the hill. Below stretched miles of beautiful scenery.

e.g. We made many mistakes in the preparation for the project. For example, we decided to complete the project in three weeks instead of in three months.

e.g. There was a severe thunderstorm. Consequently, many trees were blown down.

e.g. We did not have the fund for that expensive project. Furthermore, we lacked the expertise and the manpower to carry it out.

e.g. He did work very hard throughout the last semester; however, there was little improvement in his grades.

e.g. That project was expensive. In fact, it was the most expensive one that the company had ever undertaken .

e.g. No one volunteered to help the disabled in this facility. In other words, no one really cared.

In addition, there should be flow between paragraphs. The above can be applied accordingly to link paragraphs as a unity. 

Paragraph development

Paragraphs are about ideas, facts, and beliefs. A good paragraph must be adequately developed. In other words, every aspect of that topic has to be fully covered. There are different methods of developing your paragraphs: 


Definition is required of an abstraction, such as religious toleration, and democracy.

You need to define or explain certain terms or ideas that you think your readers may not understand. You can define by using synonyms, that is, explaining something abstract in different words, usually simpler words.


If your topic sentence is a general statement, you need to support your generalization with some concrete examples. Illustration shows that you are not talking through your hat and that you know your subject. 


If you think the idea is important, simply restate it. Repeating what you have just said in a slightly different way is an easy way of developing a paragraph. A word of  caution: make sure your sentences are not in the same structure, and the expression of the same idea is different:

You can say what is not the case, and then assert what is the case.

You can also make your restatement from a general to a more specific one by giving more details.

Comparison and contrast

In comparison and contrast, you are dealing with at least two topics with similarities, or differences, or both.

e.g. In many ways London and New York are alike. 

e.g. London is very different from New York in many respects.

e.g. Intelligence is not exactly the same as wisdom.

Use of analogy

Analogy is a special kind of comparison in which another topic is introduced to explain or justify the main subject.

You may use analogy to clarify an abstract or difficult statement previously made; you may also use analogy to persuade the readers. 

Causes and effects 

Paragraphs are about facts, ideas, and beliefs. Accordingly, you need to explain why something happened, or why it is true or false.

Within this framework, you may have to give examples, compare and contrast, and restate your ideas.

Paragraph length

In addition to the above, a good writer should also consider paragraph length as well as the number of paragraphs.

Paragraphs vary in length. Short paragraphs (one to three sentences) are used in journalism with the explicit purpose of reporting information without discussion, or in technical writing with the emphasis on presenting facts without analysis. Generally, avoid a series of very short paragraphs, which may suggest poor development of an idea. On the other hand, long paragraphs are often difficult for most readers. Always vary your paragraphs: a short one followed by several longer paragraphs. A one-sentence paragraph can be very effective to emphasize a point; however, do not overuse it.

How many paragraphs do you need? That depends on what you have to say and how much you have to say. Any piece of writing should have at least an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. The number of paragraphs you are going to give to each is at your discretion.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau