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, December 13, 2018

Expressions Commonly Confused By ESL Learners


EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY CONFUSED BY ESL LEARNERS

DRIFT


Drift apart
: separate slowly.


e.g. He drifted apart from his friends and lived a secluded life.


Drift back
: go back to someone or something slowly.


e.g. He drifted back to her former girlfriend, and they were married.


Drift off to sleep
: fall asleep gradually.


e.g. He sat on the sofa, and finally drifted off to sleep.


ARGUE


Argue about: dispute or quarrel with someone over.


e.g. They often argue about racial injustice over the dinner table.


Argue against: make a case against someone or something.


e.g. My wife and I often argue against what is best for our child.

EASE


Ease someone of something: to relieve or reduce someone of something.


e.g. The doctor eased me of my back pain.


Ease off: diminish; let up doing something.


e.g The rain has eased off; we'd better leave now.


e.g. Come on, he's just a kid. Ease off!


DIFFER

Differ about: disagree about.


e.g  We differ about who should be the next president.


Differ from: be different from


e.g. How does this one differ from that one?


Differ in: be different in a specific way.


e.g. This one and that one differ in color.


Differ with: disagree with.


e.g. I differ with you on many things.


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Monday, December 10, 2018

Why Learn Slang and Colloquial Expressions


WHY LEARN SLANG AND COLLOQUIAL EXPRESSIONS

Language is forever changing. What is currently acceptable or popular may be replaced by something else in years to come, and the use of slang is a strong testament to that. Slang is just an alternative way of saying something. It is sometimes hard to identify what is slang and what is not. Slang and colloquial expressions are often acceptable in informal writing because they are used in communication in movies, newspapers, radio, television, and other mass media The more you learn, the more you will know when to use or not to use them in your formal writing. No matter what, knowing these common everyday expressions is a plus for all ESL learners.


Easy mark: a likely victim.


e.g. If you are so unsuspecting, you may become an easy mark for swindlers.


Go the whole hog: go through thoroughly.


e.g. The prosecutor went the whole hog when he inspected the murder weapon.


Dead from the neck upwards: stupid.


e.g. Don’t follow his example; he’s dead from the neck upwards.


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.


After a fashion: in a way, but not the best one.


e.g. I can play the piano—well, after a fashion.


Bazillion: a great number of.


e.g. The national debt is now in bazillion dollars, and the Congress needs to do something about that.


No way: not at all.


e.g. “Are you going to give him a hand?” “No way; he’ll be on his own.”


Chip on one’s shoulder: a grudge against.


e.g. She still has a chip on her shoulder: your infidelity some years ago. 


Ace someone out: win out over someone.


e.g. I plan to ace him out in the first round of the competition.


No two ways about it: no other alternative.


e.g. The man had to file for bankruptcy; no two ways about it.


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Thursday, December 6, 2018

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

How to Succeed in Writing

How to Succeed in Writing


There is no formula for success in writing. The key to success is “practice, practice, practice.” After all, writing is a skill; like any other skill, you must practice it before you can master it. You learn from your mistakes, and practicing writing improves your writing. If you write everyday, you will become a more competent and proficient writer. If you learn the mechanics and techniques of writing, your writing will become more effective. It is just a matter of time. And it is just that simple.

Writing is a learning experience for all. Anybody who wants to write learns how to write. One learns how to write by writing—just as one learns how to walk by walking. Everybody can write, as long as the heart is willing to learn and master the skill of writing.

However, to be a good writer, you must possess certain innate qualities:

An interest in words—the subtle shades of meaning between words; the power of words; the sound and rhythm of words

A knowledge of and passion for the subject—writing what you love and loving what you write

A creative mind—the creativity to visualize with vivid imagination, and to see things from different perspectives; the ability to see the relationship of the whole to its various parts

Personal discipline—time set aside to write, to re-write, to edit, and to re-edit

Willingness to learn and to improve—mastering basic writing skill through repeated practice and editing

Remember this: failing to prepare is preparing to fail. 

Practice writing everyday. There is always something that you can write about -- a diary, an email, a journal, or just about anything.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Effective Writing Made Simple


Monday, November 26, 2018

Learn Some Prepositional Phrases


Learn some common prepositional phrases:

GO

Go above and beyond one's duty: exceed what is required of one.

e.g. Do you know that doing what you ask goes above and beyond my duty?

Go against the grain: run counter to one's ideas or principles.

e.g. Taking this without permission goes against the grain.

Go astray: get lost.

e.g. My keys go astray again.

Go back on something: reverse one's position.

e.g. I don't want to go back on my word, but an emergency has happened.

Go for broke: risk everything.

e.g. She went for broke and decided to marry him despite all the rumors about his infidelity.

Go for nothing: fail to achieve anything.

e.g. All our efforts helping out went for nothing.

Go in for something: enjoy doing something.

e.g. I don't go in for that kind of sport.

Go off the deep end: over do something.

e.g. You have the habit of going off the deep end about almost everything.

Go out of one's head: go crazy.

e.g. He saw what happened in front of his eyes, and went out of his head.

RUN

Run against: compete

e.g. I am going to run against him in the coming election.

Run away: leave; escape

e.g. The burglar ran away before the police arrived.

Run down
: hit with a vehicle

e.g. The old man was run down by the bus.

Run down: stop functioning

e.g. My lawn mower is running down; I need to get a new one.

Run into: meet by accident

e.g. Yesterday, I ran into an old friend that I had not seen for decades.

Run out of: not have any more of something

e.g. Hurry! We're running out of time!

HELP

Help along: help someone move along.

e.g. We are more than happy to help you along by giving you any assistance.

Help someone on with something: help someone to put on something.

e.g. Please help her on with her coat.

Help out: help someone out at a particular place.

e.g. I'm at the kitchen. Can you help me out?

Help someone to something: serve something to someone.

e.g. Help yourself to more rice.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, November 23, 2018

Knowing Their Differences

Eminent / Imminent / prominent

Eminent means important or outstanding; imminent means coming soon.

e.g. He is an eminent author whose books have been translated into multiple languages worldwide.
e.g. Look at the dark clouds above; I think a storm is imminent.

Endure / Persevere

Endure means to bear bravely; persevere means to keep on doing.

e.g. It is not easy to endure the physical pain.
e.g. In spite of all the difficulties, he persevered with his plans.

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.

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.


Everyday / Every day

Everyday is an adjective.

e.g. This is an everyday event.
e.g. This happens in every day.
e.g. Every day somebody is killed on the road.

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

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.

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.

Emigrate means to move to a country; immigrate means to come to country.

e.g. Many people like to emigrate to the United States.
e.g. Those who immigrate from other countries must abide by the laws in this country.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Monday, November 19, 2018

Learn Some Slang Expressions


Learn Some Slang Expressions

Have not the faintest: have no idea at all.
e.g. I had not the faintest what he was talking about.

French leave: leave without permission.
e.g. His boss found out that he took French leave yesterday afternoon to see his mother in the hospital.

Darned sight more: a lot more.
e.g. "Do you think he should put more effort on this?" "A darned sight more!"

Have it in for someone: bear someone a grudge; be determined to punish someone.
e.g. All these years he has it in for you: you married his sweetheart.

Put one's shirt on: wager everything.
e.g. We have to put our shirt on this project; we've no other option.

Pooped: exhausted.
e.g. I was pooped after working for nine hours in the yard.

Hard put to it: in a very difficult situation.
e.g. I understand that when you are out of employment for so long, you are really very hard put to it.

Have a load on: be very drunk.
e.g. Your husband seemed to have a load on when he came home from work yesterday.

Alive and kicking: in good health.
"How is she doing?" "Very much alive and kicking."

Say-so: permission.
e.g. Do I have your say-so to launch the project?

See with half an eye: see easily.
e.g. The mistake is so obvious: you can see it with half an eye.

All at sea: confused.
e.g. "What do you think of the proposal?" "I'm all at sea; I'm completely clueless."

Jump on: blame or criticize strongly.
e.g. You jumped on him every time he opened his mouth.

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.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Correct Use of Semi-Colon


Semicolon is one of the punctuation marks frequently misused in writing.

A semicolon is used between a dependent clause and an independent clause.

e.g. Although he was very tired; he did not want to go to bed. (incorrect)

e.g. Although he was very tiredhe did not want to got to bed. (a comma should be used instead)

A semicolon is used to introduce a list.

e.g. The box was filled with everything but booksclothing, snacks, hammers and tools. (incorrect)

e.g. The box was filled with everything but booksclothing, snacks, hammers and tools. (a colon should be used instead)

A semicolon is not used between an introductory phrase and the rest of the sentence.

e.g. Her hands tremblingshe managed to pour the toxic liquid into the tube. (incorrect)

e.g. Her hands tremblingshe managed to pour the toxic liquid into the tube (a comma should be used instead)


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, November 12, 2018

Learn Some American Idioms


Pour money down the drain: waste money

e.g. It’s better to declare bankruptcy, rather than pouring money down the drain; nothing can revive the business.

Trump up: make up something untrue

e.g. The witness trumped up an excuse why he lied previously.

After all: in spite of everything

e.g. She didn’t get a good score; after all, it was her first attempt

Take one’s medicine: accept misfortune or punishment that one deserves

e.g. I messed it up; it was all my fault. I’ll take my medicine.

Late in life: in old age

e.g. It was only late in life that he became a famous writer.

Poke one’s nose into something: interfere with

e.g. I don’t like the way you poke your nose into my affairs.

Run in the family: a characteristic in all members of a family

e.g. Longevity runs in the family: they all live to a ripe old age.

Above all: most importantly

e.g. Above all, you must have a valid visa if you wish to continue to stay in the United States.

Have it coming: deserve what one gets
e.g. Failure was unavoidable. What you did had it coming.

A little bird told me: somehow I knew

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

Tie up: engage or occupy in doing something

e.g. He was tied up at the meeting, and could not come to the phone.

Push someone to the wall: force someone into a difficult or defensive position

e.g. Don’t push him to the wall! He might even kill you!

All at sea: confused

e.g. The lawyer was all at sea when he read the two conflicting reports of the incident.

Actions speak louder than words: do something about it, not just talking about it

e.g. Show me what you have done! Actions speak louder than words.

Add insult to injury: make things worse
e.g. Enough is enough! Don’t add insult to injury.

Presence of mind: clarity of thinking

e.g. Without presence of mind, it is impossible to handle one crisis after another.

As flat as a pancake: very flat

e.g. You left front wheel tires is as flat as a pancake.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau