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.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Singular Or Plural?

Singular or Plural

The following sentences are correct, and they illustrate the uses of singular or plural verbs in some common expressions:

e.g. Fifty dollars is a lot of money to me (amount).

e.g. Two weeks of vacation is not enough (time).

e.g. One of the tables was badly damaged in the storm.

e.g. All coming and going after midnight is not allowed (a single idea).

e.g. A number of books were checked out (many).

e.g. The number of students present was great (the figure).

e.g. The greater part of the land was cultivated.

e.g. The greater part of the oranges were bad.

e.g. More than one student was involved.

e.g. Screaming and shouting was heard even inside the house. (a single idea)

Majority is often confusing: it efers to number, not to the amount or quantity.

e.g. The majority of the people were women. (correct)

e.g. The majority of the eggs were bad. (correct)

e.g. The majority of the butter was bad. (incorrect)

e.g. Most of the butter was bad. (correct)

Compare the following:

e.g. The majority of children like sweets. (some do not like)

e.g. Most children like sweets. (children in general like sweets)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, December 2, 2022

Correct Use of Prepositions


Ace in(to): to be luck to be admitted into (slang).

e.g. My son aced into Harvard University.

Ace out of: to be lucky to accomplish something.

e.g. I aced out of my chemistry exam.


Turn against: attack, defy.

e.g. He turned against those who did not support him.
e.g. Many people have turned against the sanctions of the government.

Turn around / turn about: reverse the situation.

e.g The company is losing money, but it hopes to turn around soon.
e.g. Do you think the new manager can turn it about?

Turn aside: avoid or evade.

e.g. The presidential candidate turned aside  the reporters' question.

Turn back: reverse the journey.

e.g. I don't think there is anything ahead; let's turn back.

Turn down: reject.

e.g. We had no choice but to turn down the offer.

Turn in: go to bed; submit.

e.g. It is very late; let's turn in.
e.g. Have you turned in your homework?

Turn into: become something or someone different.

e.g. Bitterness has turned him into an unforgiving person.

Turn up: appear.

e.g. Due to the weather, not many people turned up at the meeting.


Appeal against: ask a court to cancel something.

e.g. The lawyer appealed against the court’s decision.

Appeal for: demand as a right.

e.g. I think we should appeal for justice.

e.g. They are appealing for our help.

Appeal to: attract or please someone.

e.g. The proposal appealed to many of us.

e.g. Her personality appeals to everybody around her.

e.g. Does this food appeal to your taste?

Stephen Lau     
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Confusing Words

Accountable to / Accountable for
Accountable to someone; accountable for something
 (meaning "responsible for").

e.g. The CEO is accountable to the Board; he has to be accountable for all his business decisions.

Hail / Hale
Hail means to greet or salute.

e.g. "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."

Hale means healthy and strong.

e.g. A man is hale when his complexion is rosy

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.

Providing that / Provided that
Providing that is incorrect.

e.g. You can go out to play provided (that) you have finished your homework. (meaning: on condition that)
e.g. You can keep the book for another week providing that no one has reserved it (incorrect: provided that should be used instead)
e.g. The millionaire has helped the poor, providing many of them with food and shelter. (correct; meaning: giving or offering)

Indoor Indoors
Indoor is an adjective; indoors is an adverb.

e.g. Bowling is an indoor game.
e.g. It's going to rain; let's go indoors.

Welcome / Welcomed
Welcome is an adjective or a verb; welcomed is a participle.

e.g. You are most welcome.
e.g. This is a welcome party for all newcomers.
e.g. I like to welcome all of you.
e.g. The guests were welcomed by all of us in front of the house.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Basic Tools for Effective Writing

To learn how to write well, you need some basic tools.

Getting Some Basic Tools

Effective writing requires lifelong learning and finding answers to all your questions about writing. Accordingly, you need to get some basic tools for your effective writing: 

A dictionary 

Use a dictionary to find out what words mean and to make sure that words mean what you think they mean.

Use a dictionary to see a word in context so that you have better understanding of how that word should be used in your own writing.

Use a dictionary to find out the preferred spelling of a word because the same word can be spelled differently.

Use a dictionary to determine the usage of a word, such as the preposition that normally goes with it

A thesaurus

A thesaurus may help you find the right word to use. Sometimes you cannot recall a certain word that you may wish to use; in that case, a dictionary may not be able to help you. A thesaurus provides words and phrases that are close in meaning. 

Understanding the Purpose of Writing 

You write not just for your teachers or your readers, but, more importantly, for yourself. There are several reasons why you should write: 

Writing may be a part of your job description. Writing letters, memos, reports, minutes of meetings, and sending e-mails may be your daily tasks at your workplace.

Writing affords you an opportunity to explore yourself—your thoughts and feelings. Writing is often a journey of self-discovery: you begin to find out more about who you are, and what your values are. Writing is more than an expression of self: it creates the self. To that end, you can write a diary or journal for self-expression. Regular journal writing not only improves your writing skill but also expands your thinking.

Writing helps you organize your thinking. Effective writing requires you to put your random thoughts into a coherent pattern. Through writing, you learn to mentally articulate your ideas in a more logical and systematic way. Writing regularly improves your logic and sharpens your power of reasoning.

Writing enhances your ability to use language for specific purposes. You begin to realize how some writers use manipulative language to persuade others. Accordingly, you learn to “read between the lines” as well as to recognize the truths from the myths.

Writing is an effective means of communication with others. Even when you write an e-mail to your friends, you have to make yourself intelligible by writing what you mean and meaning what you write.

Writing is an important communication skill. Reap all the benefits of writing by learning how to write. Make a virtue out of your necessity.

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

Firstly this book is presented in a simple and easy-to-follow format: it is easy to read and understand. Secondly, 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.

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, November 28, 2022

The TAO in Everything


The TAO is the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China more than 2,600 years ago. as 

The TAO has thrived and survived thousands of years for a good reason: what was applicable in the past is still applicable in the present; what was true in the past is still true today. Another testament to this universal truth is that "Tao Te Ching"-- the only book written by Lao Tzu -- is one of the most translated books in world literature -- probably only after the Bible.

The TAO is easy to understand but most controversial. The explanation is that there is no absolute truth about human wisdom, which is all about self-intuition and self-enlightenment. That is to say, your mind is uniquely yours, and your thinking is your own thinking.

The TAO plays a pivotal role in every aspect of your life. With wisdom, you will see the TAO in everything, including the following:

Sunday, November 27, 2022

English and American Slang

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 the media.

Easy on the eye: good looking.
e.g. I say, your girlfriend is easy on the eye.

Beefcake: a muscular man.
e.g. She has been dating a beefcake.
e.g. He goes to the gym regularly because he wants to be a beefcake.

Caught short: caught at a disadvantage.
e.g. The market plunged, and we were caught short just as thought we were on the road to recovery..

Killer: a very funny joke.
e.g. That last one was really a killer;  everybody laughed.

Kick back: relax and enjoy.
e.g I really want to kick back and enjoy the music.

Daylight robbery: too costly.
e.g. That’s daylight robbery; to pay $300 just to fix this!

Not in the same street: of a different quality (usually inferior).
e.g. These two dresses may look similar, but they are not in the same street. This one looks much more elegant than that one.

Alive and kicking: in good health.
e.g. "How is your grandmother doing?" "Very much alive and kicking."

Bad shot: wrong guess.
e.g. “He came with his wife, didn’t he?” “Bad shot: he came all by himself.”

In a jiffy: soon.
e.g. The manager will see you in a jiffy.

Next to nothing: hardly anything.
e.g. “Did she leave you anything at all?” “Well, next to nothing.”

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

Whistle for: wish in vain.
e.g. The stock market has fallen sharply. You can whistle for your money invested.

Head above water: out of debt.
e.g. Nowadays, it is not easy to keep your head above water.

Mean-green: money.
e.g. Can I borrow a little mean-green from you?

Break a leg: good luck!
e.g. "I'll have my first piano competition tomorrow." "Break a leg!"

Stephen Lau

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Knowing Their Differences


Sedative: calming or soothing.
e.g. Without her sedative medicine, she could not go to sleep.

Sedentary: accustomed to sitting; physically inactive.
e.g His sedentary work -- sitting in front of the computer -- took a toll on his health.
e.g. Most seniors have a sedentary lifestyle as they continuing e to age.


Anxious means worried; eager means impatiently desirous.
e.g. He was anxious about his future.
e.g. The children are eager to open their Christmas presents.


Fragile: delicate, easily broken.
e.g. This piece of antique is fragile; please handle with care.

Frail: weak in health; without strong support.
e.g. He looks pale and frail.
e.g. The Senator received frail support from his party.


Periodic: occurring again and again.
e.g. The singer has never really retired with periodic appearance on TV.

Periodical: published at regular intervals.
e.g. This is a periodical magazine -- published once a month.

Removable: can be dismissed or removed.
e.g. This is a removable position, not a permanent one.

Removed: distant, remote, separate.
 e.g. He is my removed relative.


Impair: weaken or repair.
e.g. Spending too much time on the computer may impair your vision.

Repair: fix
e.g. Eye exercises can repair your vision

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau