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, May 24, 2022

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© by Stephen Lau

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Correct Vocabulary

Necessaries / Necessities

Necessaries: things that are necessary but may not be indispensable; necessities: things that are absolutely indispensable.

e.g. Food and water are necessities of life.

e.g. The necessaries of life may include a house and a car.

Adherence / Adhesion

Much more: especially in a positive sense; much less: not to mention in a negative sense.

e.g. I would help a stranger in need, much more if he is my son.

e.g. She wouldn't even look at me, much less talk to me.

Obligatory / Obliging

Obligatory: compulsory; obliging: willing to help, kind  and polite.

e.g. Attendance is obligatory, not an option.

e.g. She is obliging, always ready to help others.

On the contrary / On the other hand

On the contrary: the second statement cancels or contradicts what is said in the first statement; on the other hand: the second statement is in contrast to the first, but not necessarily irreconcilable to the first.

e.g. People thought that the Mayor was honest. On the contrary, he was the most dishonest man in the office.

e.g. On the one hand, the kitchen is spacious; on the other hand, the bedrooms are a bit small in size.

Adherence: following faithfully (metaphorically); adhesion: sticking to (literally).

e.g. No matter what may happen, our company will demonstrate to our shareholders our adherence to the project.

e.g. You can use this glue to strengthen the adhesion of these two pieces of material.

Defer / Infer

Defer: give way or yield to; infer: conclude.

e.g. He is a good kid: he always defers to his parents' wishes.

e.g. We can infer from your statement that you don't like this policy.

Accountable to / Accountable for

Accountable to: responsible to someone; accountable for: responsible for something

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

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Slang and Colloquial Expressions

In the raw: naked.
e.g. Did you see that man on the street? He was dancing in the raw.

Are you with me?: understand or agree with me.
e.g. I've been explaining this for an hour. Are you with me?

Bang out: reveal.
e.g. If you go into politics, you must be prepared to let all your secrets bang out.

Jam full / packed: fully packed.
e.g. The room is jam packed with boxes.

Gift of the gab: ability to give effective speeches.
e.g. The new Mayor has the gift of the gab: people like listening to him.

Keep one's head above water: stay out of debt or a difficult situation.
e.g. In this economic environment, it is not easy to keep your head above water.

Hard at it: busy.
e.g. "Are you working on the project?" "You bet! I'm hard at it."

Not so dusty: quite good.
e.g. Well the performance was not so dusty; much better than I expected.

In the clear: innocent.
e.g. I know you didn't do it; the investigation will put you in the clear.

Hook on to: attach oneself to.
e.g. Don't hook on to your computer all day.

Hot under the collar: very angry.
e.g. When they mentioned his untimely resignation, he was hot under the collar.

Stephen Lau     
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, May 20, 2022

Right Attitudes for Effective Writing

Effective writing begins with a desire not only to write but also to write well. Desire galvanizes your efforts to improve your writing skill no matter what.

First of all, embrace the right attitudes to learning effective writing:

Improving your writing skill takes time and effort. You cannot master it overnight.

Overcome any negative attitude you may have, such as “I’m not good in English” or “English is never my strong subject.” Negative thinking may adversely affect your mindset and mental capability to write effectively. Always be positive about your ability to write well. After all, it is just a skill, and it is learnable.

Dispel the myth that a writer is born, not made. Writing is no more than a skill that can be acquired, learned, and taught.

Develop self-confidence that you, too, can acquire effective writing through the following:

Learning the basics of writing

Following clear instructions

Looking at samples of effective writing

Practicing writing regularly

With confidence, you will become more willing to express yourself, instead of worrying about making mistakes. It is better to write with mistakes than not to be able to write at all. Remember this: a creator is worth all the critics.

What separates EFFECTIVE WRITING Made Simple from other books on how to improve your writing skill?

First, this book is presented in a simple and easy-to-follow format: it is easy to read and understand. Second, this book is comprehensive: it covers every aspect of good writing—from basic grammar, correct sentences, effective use of words, paragraph development, to style and usage. With many examples and illustrations, this book is like a handy manual at your fingertips for easy reference. Effective writing is an essential communication skill in inter-personal relationships and in almost every profession.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Learn Some Slang

Easy on the eye: good looking.
e.g. I say, your girlfriend is easy on the eye.
Act your age: behave yourself according to your age..
e.g. You’re almost an adult. Come on, act your age, and stop behaving like a spoiled brat!
Call it a day: consider something to be done or finished.
e.g. Let’s call it a day, and just go home.

Nod is as good as a wink: take note of the hint.
e.g. I think he was trying to tell you to resign; a nod is as good as a wink.

Butter up: flatter.
e.g. Now that you have been promoted, everybody seems to butter up you.

Bang-up: excellent.
e.g. We did spend a bang-up week in Greece

No oil painting: ugly.
e.g. To tell the truth, the dress you bought me is no oil painting.

All hot and bothered: agitated, confused, or excited.
e.g. She was all hot and bothered when she heard the news of her daughter’s divorce.

Lame duck: someone who needs help but undeserved.
e.g. My brother, who is always unemployed, is a lame duck to me.

Buy it: die.
e.g. During the car crash, I thought I was going to buy it.

Much of a muchness: practically the same.
e.g. I don’t see any difference between the twins; they’re pretty much of a muchness to me.

Catch it: be scolded.
e.g. If you do this again, you’ll catch it.

Also-ran: someone not likely to win.
e.g. In this presidential election, he was just an also-ran. In less than two months, he called it quit.

Turn in: go to bed.
e.g. Come on, guys, it’s time to turn in.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Prepositions and Phrasal Verbs

The use of prepositions is one of the difficult aspects of learning English. A preposition is a functional word that appears before nouns and relates to some other constructions in the sentence.

A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and one or more prepositions that functions as a single unit of meaning. Phrasal verbs are commonly used in writing. As an ESL learner, learn some prepositional phrases:


Frown at: scowl at someone or something.

e.g. She frowned at my cat and gave her a kick.

Frown on: show disapproval.

e.g. His parents frown on everything he does.


Drink down: consume something by drinking it.

e.g. He drank down the medicine, and felt better.

Drink in: absorb sight or information.

e.g. He was standing on the beach, trying to drink in the beauty around.

 e.g. It would take time to drink in the significance of the message.

Drink under the table: be able to drink more alcohol that someone else.

e.g. I bet I can drink you under the table.

Drink up: consume all of something.

e.g. Do you think you can drink up this bottle of wine?


Hold no brief for: tolerate someone or something.

e.g. I hold no brief for that kind of behavior.

Hold off: delay; restrain.

e.g. The air strike might hold off the enemies for some time.

Hold one's end up: carry one's share of the bargain or burden.

e.g. We expect you to hold your end up and keep your promise to back us up.

e.g. With only that much money left, I don't know how long we could hold out.

Hold still for something: put up with something.

e.g. It is not easy to hold still for that kind of rude remark.


Ground in: instruct.

e.g. We should ground our children in love and compassion as they grow up.

Ground on: form a foundation for.

e.g. His intelligence was grounded on reading books on wisdom.


Dance on air: be very happy.

e.g. When she heard the good news, she was dancing on air.

Dance to another tune: change one,s manner, act very differently.

e.g. What I'm going to tell you will make you dance to another tune.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

NEW BOOK: Depression No Depression



We are living in a world of depression. Every day many are diagnosed with depression, and many even commit suicide as a way out of depression. 

But depression is all in your mind--your "thinking" mind--how it perceives and interprets all your life experiences. So, to avoid and or heal your depression is to "change" the way you think.

But how?

Use human wisdom--more specifically TAO wisdom, the ancient wisdom from China more than 2,600 years ago. But human wisdom may need spiritual wisdom to live in reality.

Many are not living in reality, but only in fancy and fantasy. That explains why there are so many crimes, sins and evils committed in society. Many have "no accountability" to their conscience or to God; instead, they think it is human right to do whatever they want to do, given that they have the gift of "free will."

If you "live in reality with accountability", you will have no depression.

Stephen Lau

FREE BOOK - Seeking the Helper

               FREE BOOK

"An Ego-Self"

Throughout your life, you may have focused so much on yourself that you have become self-center. The more you know yourself, the more you understand that you are different from others, and that you have an ego-self. With no exception, we all have an ego-self, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Yes, we are all different from each other. But your ego-self may become troublesome if you cannot accept others as who they are, and you always want to “inflate” your own ego-self to become better than others. Very often, in the process of inflating your ego, you create many “attachments” to define who you think you are or wish you were, as well as to separate yourself from others. Your attachments can come in different forms, such as a successful career, living in a multi-million dollar home, or driving an expensive car. To pursue or maintain those attachments, you may even resort to doing all the wrong things, such as pushing someone over while climbing your own ladder of success.

But why an inflated ego-self? 

It is because you want to “control” others so that you may have better control of your own life and destiny. Remember, control is power. With power, you may think that you can have the life you want.

With pride, you want to take control of everything happening in your life through your control of others. On the other hand, with humility, you can seek the help of the Higher-Being to be your Helper.

So, the leading question is: Do you want the Helper or do you want to do everything on your own?

Get this FREE BOOK to find out how to become a believer to overcome your pride and let God control your life and destiny.

Stephen Lau

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Learn American Idioms

Get one's own back: to revenge oneself.
e.g. He wants to get his own back for the insult he has received.

Fall from grace: lose favor or popularity.
e.g. Armstrong has fallen from grace because of the doping.

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

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

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

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

Flip-flop: change sides in an issue
e.g. Politicians who flip-flop too much are unpopular with voters.

Quick on the uptake: quick to understand; smart
e.g. He is quick on the uptake; you don’t need to give him unnecessary details.

All thumbs: awkward and clumsy with one’s fingers
e.g. She will not learn to play the piano because she knows her fingers are all thumbs.

Abide by: accept and follow
e.g. If you wish to become a citizen of the United States, you must abide by U.S. immigration laws.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau