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.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Learning Slang

Learning a language takes time and effort due to its complexity. Language is forever changing. What is currently popular may be replaced by something else in years to come, and the use of slang is a strong testament to that. Colloquial expressions are often acceptable in informal writing. The more you learn, the more you will know when to use them or not to use them in your writing or speaking. 

Power of: a great deal of.
e.g. Surely he can do anything: he has power of money.

Hold your horse: delay taking action.
e.g. Come on, hold your horse, and just take it easy!

Right you are: I agree.
e.g. "I think I'm going to accept this job." "Right you are."

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

Give someone a piece of one's mind: scold.
e.g. He was rude, and I would like to give him a piece of my mind.

Pop the question: propose marriage.
e.g. Did he pop the question on Valentine's Day?

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

Poorly: sick or unwell.
e.g. What's the matter with you today? I say, you look poorly!

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

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

Say one's piece: say what one ought to say.
e.g. I must say my piece: that was not a nice thing to say to your parents.

Give someone a break: leave me alone.
e.g. Come on, give me a break; I don't want to hear this from you.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Use of Tenses

Verbs form tenses. Tenses indicate time and sequence of events or actions. To write effectively, you must know how to form tenses and use them correctly. Some of the tenses most commonly used in writing are as follows:

Present tense indicates a present action or a fact.

e.g. The book is on the table. (a present action)

e.g. The sun rises in the east. (a fact)

e.g. They are my children. (a fact)

e.g. She sings like a bird. (a fact)

Present continuous tense indicates an action going on right now.

e.g. I am cooking my dinner.

e.g. You are reading this book right now.

e.g. Now she is singing like a bird. (At this very moment, she is singing beautifully like a bird, but it does not necessarily mean it is a fact that she always sings like a bird.)

The present tense may also indicate an imminent future event.

e.g. I am leaving for New York tomorrow.

e.g. I shall leave for New York next month. (the future more remote)

Present perfect tense indicates an action in the past as well as in the present; a past action with a present result.

e.g. I have been a student in this college for more than five years. (Five years ago I was a student, and now I am still a student in this college.)

e.g. I have spent all my money. (a past action with a present result: I spent my money yesterday, and now I have no more money left.)

Compare the following to have a better understanding of the difference between the present perfect tense and the past tense:

e.g. I have told him. (I told him sometime in the past, and therefore I don’t need to tell him now, or he should know it by now because I already told him some time ago.)

e.g. I told him yesterday. (an action in the past with no present consequence)

Past tense indicates an action in the past.

e.g. We left for San Francisco yesterday.

Past perfect tense indicates an action in the past in relation to another action in past time.

e.g. The student had finished his assignment before the teacher returned. (The student finished his assignment first, and then the teacher returned.)

e.g. When the doctor arrived, the man had breathed his last. (The man died before the doctor arrived.)

e.g. When he came to see us last night, our son had left for New York. (He just missed our son.)

Future tense indicates an action in the future.

e.g. I will see you next week (Compare: I am seeing you tomorrow).

Future perfect tense indicates an action in the future in relation to another action further in the future.

e.g. By noon tomorrow, I will have finished painting my room. (Most probably, I will finish painting my room in the morning. By noon, my room will look clean and fresh.)

e.g. When he arrives tomorrow, I will have completed the project for him to examine. (When he comes tomorrow, my project will be ready for him to examine.)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, February 17, 2017

Right Choice of Words for Effective Writing

Effective writing is about words -- the right choice of words.

Indoor and Indoors

Indoor is an adjective, while indoors is an adverb.

e.g. We went indoors because a storm was coming.

e.g. We love to watch all indoor games.

Distinct and Distinctive

Distinct means “clear” or “obvious”; distinctive means “having a characteristic of something.”

e.g. The water had a distinct smell of petroleum.

e.g. Petroleum has a distinctive smell.

Compare with and Compare to

e.g. I want to compare this dress with that one to see which one is more suitable for me. (finding differences)

e.g. I don’t want to compare my dress to hers. (making a comparison, especially finding similarities)

Continual and Continuous

e.g. All these years, our support has been continual. (repeated often)

e.g. The sound of the alarm was continuous for more than ten minutes. (with no interruption)

Council and Counsel

e.g. Seek counsel (advice) from an expert before you go to the town council (administrative body).

Disinterested and Uninterested

e.g. A judge has to be disinterested. (impartial; fair)

e.g. I was uninterested in the game. (showing no enthusiasm)

Avenge and Revenge

e.g. He avenged her death by bringing the killer to justice. (seeking justice)

e.g. He revenged the death of his son by killing the murderer’s son. (less concerned with justice, more concerned with getting even)

     Any one and Anyone

e.g. Any one of you can come. (more specific)

e.g. Anyone can come. (generally not specifically)

Contemptible and Contemptuous

e.g. To take advantage of the poor is a contemptible act. (deserving to be looked down upon)

e.g. He is contemptuous of those who disagree with him. (showing contempt; looking down upon)

Historic and Historical

e.g. That was a historic event. (having a long history)

e.g. This is a historical novel. (about history)

 Implicit and Explicit

e.g. The security threat was implicit in this report. (hinted; suggested)

e.g. We were given very explicit instructions on how to deal with the problem. (clearly stated; detailed)

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Friday, February 3, 2017

Prepositional Phrases


Argue back: answer back.

e.g. I wish he would not argue back so much.

Argue down: defeat someone in a debate.

e.g. He tries to argue down everyone who has opposite views.

Argue for: make a case for someone.

e.g. My lawyer will argue for me in court.

Argue into: convince someone to do something.

e.g. I could not argue myself into helping you in this project.

Argue with: challenge someone or something.

e.g. I won’t argue with what you do; after all, it is your choice.


Close down: close permanently; out of business.

e.g. The factory closed down last month due to the economy.

Close in: encircle and threaten.

e.g. We are now closing in on our enemies.

Close up: close temporarily.

e.g. Come back tomorrow; we're now closing up.


Find out: discover; learn.

e.g. The police eventually found out the truth of the murder case.

e.g. Sooner or later you will find out all the facts.


Accommodate to: adapt to.

e.g. I have to accommodate myself to the new routine.

Accommodate with: provide something special for something.

e.g. We will accommodate you with a new car.


Follow on: die at a date later than someone.

e.g. He followed on after his wife a few months later.

Follow through: continue to supervise.

e.g. I hope someone would follow through on this project until its completion.

Follow something up:  check something out.

e.g. Please follow up this lead.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau