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, October 27, 2017

Correct Use of Pronouns

Correct Use of Pronouns


A pronoun is a word that stands for a noun. Effective use of pronouns allows flexibility in writing.

e.g. Peter left for New York. He drove there in his new car.

e.g. I bought myself an expensive watch. It cost me one thousand dollars.

Relative pronouns (who, whom, which, that) introduce clauses that describe nouns or pronouns. These relative clauses can be restrictive (i.e. containing essential information), or non-restrictive (i.e. containing only additional but non-essential information).

Compare the following pairs of sentences:

e.g. The van that hit my dog was a mini van. (correct)

The relative clause above identifies the van, and therefore is essential to meaning of the sentence.

e.g. The van, which hit my dog, was a mini van.(incorrect)

The non-restrictive relative clause above provides only additional information. The use of a non-restrictive clause with the two commas further implies that it can be deleted; however, without which hit my dog, the sentence would not make much sense.

e.g. The reporter who took the photos is now being sued for invasion of privacy. (correct)

The relative clause above is restrictive because it identifies the reporter being sued.

e.g. The reporter, who took the photos, is now being sued for invasion of privacy. (correct)

The relative clause above becomes non-restrictive with the addition of two commas, and who took the photos becomes extra information non-essential to the meaning of the sentence. The sentence without the non-restrictive clause who took the photos would still make sense, and therefore is correct as it stands.

Knowing the difference between a restrictive and non-restrictive relative clause will help you in effective sentence construction.

Incorrect use of subjective pronouns is a common grammatical error.

e.g. My father and I went to see the show. (NOT me: both of us went to see the show)

e.g. It is I who made the decision. (NOT me: I made the decision.)

e.g. The real losers are we ourselves. (NOT us: we are the real losers.)

e.g. The man who called us was who? (NOT whom: who called us?)

e.g. The woman who killed her baby was she. (NOT her: she killed her baby.)

e.g. Peter and he went to the movie. (NOT him: both went to the movie.)

The correct use of pronouns can be difficult with certain expressions, such as, as and more than. The following pairs of sentences are correct, but the meaning is different.

e.g. She likes him more than I. (She likes him more than I like him.)

e.g. She likes him more than me. (She likes him more than she likes me.)

e.g. I like Peter better than she. (I like Peter better than she likes Peter.)

e.g. I like Peter better than her. (I like Peter better than I like her.)

Use possessive pronouns with gerunds (words ending in ing) correctly.

e.g. You don’t like my going to the fair by myself. (NOT me going: you don’t like the “going” not “me” the person.)

e.g. Your smirking irritates me. (NOT you smirking: not “you” but your “smirking” irritates me)

A pronoun must agree with its antecedent (the noun that a pronoun refers to).

e.g. All is well. (referring to the sum of all things)

e.g. All are well. (referring to a number of people)

e.g. Everyone wants to get his or her application submitted. (NOT their)
e.g. None of them is going to succeed. (NOT are: the subject is none)

e.g. Some is better than none. (referring to a quantity)

e.g. Some are good. (referring to a number of things)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Prepositional Words and Phrases to Help Your Writing

Learn some common prepositional words and phrases to help your writing.


Pick on: tease; make fun of; bully.

e.g. Don't pick on me with you dirty jokes!

Pick out: select

e.g. You have to pick out your favorite songs from this album.

Pick up: life with hands or fingers; learn; increase quantity or speed.

e.g. Can you pick up that piece of paper on the floor?

e.g. You can always pick up some colloquial expressions from watching a movie.

e.g. We hope the sales will pick up in a few months.

e.g. Our car began to pick up speed as soon as it was on the highway.


Bring about: cause something to happen

e.g. The racial discrimination brought about the social unrest.

Bring off: achieve something difficult

e.g. The research on DNA was difficult and unpredictable, but the scientists were able to bring it off.

Bring on: cause

e.g. What brought the event on?

e.g. The riot was brought on by the Mayor's proposed policy.

Bring to: revive; make it clear

e.g. The man fainted, but was soon brought to with some smelling salt.

e.g. I hope this incident will bring you to your senses.

Bring to a close: end something

e.g. I hope this verdict will finally bring the matter to a close.

Bring out: emphasize

e.g. That tragedy brought out the best of humanity: all the neighbors were caring and compassionate.

Bring up: raise; care for

e.g. In this day and age, it is not easy to bring up children.


Catch on: understand.

e.g. The technology is fairly simple; before long, you'll catch on.

Catch up with: keep pace with.

e.g. Hurry up! You have to catch up with them.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Correct Use of Commas

Punctuation is a device in writing to help your readers understand better what you have expressed in your writing. There are certain punctuation rules you need to follow in order to make your meaning clear and your sentences effective.

The Comma

(1) The comma is used for clarity in separating different parts (words, phrases, or clauses) of a sentence.
e.g. The box contained some nailsa pair of clovesand a hammer.
The comma before and is optional, but is preferable where clarity may be an issue. The comma is not omitted before and in a series of independent clauses.
e.g. The father took the keyhis children carried the bagand their dog followed them.
(2) The comma separates independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (but).
 e.g. This is an excellent moviebut many people have not seen it.
(3) The comma separates a dependent clause from an independent one.
e.g. Although this is an excellent moviemany people have not seen it.
(4) The comma separates coordinate adjectives (describing the same noun) without the conjunction and.
e.g. a tall, dark, handsome man (coordinating adjectives)
However, the comma is omitted in cluster adjectives (describing the subsequent words)
e.g. a dark brown leather jacket (dark describes brownbrown describes leather; and leather describes jacket)
(5) The comma is used for clarity of meaning.
e.g. At sixty-five, you may consider retirement.
e.gNot getting any sleepthe man felt exhausted.
e.g. To write effectively, you must learn some basic writing skills.
(6) The comma separates a non-essential clause or sentence element from the rest of the sentence.
e.g. Look at this book, which was found on the kitchen floor!
There is only one book here, and it was found on the kitchen floor; which was found on the kitchen floor becomes only additional but not essential information (indicated by the presence of the commas).
Look at another example:
e.g. Look at this book that was found on the kitchen floor!
There are many other books, and this one was found on the kitchen floor; that was found on the kitchen floor is essential information because it identifies which book to look at (indicated by the absence of the commas).
(7) The comma separates modifiers and conjunctive adverbs.
e.g. He was helpful. For examplehe always helped in the kitchen.
e.g. He was a fast runner. In facthe was the fastest on record.
e.g. There are several things you must do. In the first placeyou must have the mindset to be diligent.
e.g. He wanted to pass the exam. Thereforehe worked extra hard.
e.g. She was beautiful. Moreovershe had a taste for fashion.
e.g. He is always helpful. Neverthelessthis time he did not lift a finger to help me.
e.g. He knew he was wrong. Thushe apologized right away.
(8) The comma is NOT used before subordinating conjunctions (afteralthoughbecausebeforeifsince, unless, untilwhenwhere).
e.g. You cannot leave now because the airport is closed. (NO comma)
e.g. Because the airport is closed, you cannot leave now. (comma here)
e.g. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency. (NO comma)
e.g. Unless it is an emergencydo not call 911. (comma here)
e.g. We left the bar when we finished our drinks. (NO comma)
e.g. When we finished our drinks, we left the bar. (comma here)
Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Your FREE Book to Lose Weight

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All-Round Weight Loss
by Stephen Lau

Everybody wants to lose some weight; some even want to lose a lot more. But almost everybody gains back all the pounds that have been lost, and then some.

Why is that? Because weight loss is not just about eating less—after all, everybody wants to eat more, not less. Weight loss is about everything, just as Oprah Winfrey once said: “My greatest failure was in believing that the weight issue was just about weight.” Oprah was right. Weight loss is all-round; that is, it involves the body, the mind, and the spirit. To illustrate, weight loss is also about the thinking mind; it is the thoughts that make you fat, more than anything else. According to Esther and Jerry Hicks' bestseller "Money and the Law of Attraction," people not only want the food but also believe that the food will make them fat, and thus have created that which they do not want; unfortunately, their thoughts attract what they do not want, so their bodies respond to the thinking mind, and gain instead of losing weight.

Therefore, going on a fad diet, abstaining from certain types of food, reducing calorie consumption-all these only contribute to the weight-loss hype that sustains the billion-dollar weight-loss industry. The consumers forever lose in the battle of the bulge.

ALL-ROUND WEIGHT LOSS is holistic weight management in that it covers every aspect of weight loss, beginning with the mind, the body, and then the spirit, to make weight loss natural and permanent. Only holistic weight management guarantees lasting weight loss. Do not waste money on diets, and weight-loss products and programs that do not work. Follow the author's simple but comprehensive holistic approach to wellness and weight management. Remember, if you are healthy in body, mind, and soul, you will not have any weight problem.

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Stephen Lau

Monday, October 2, 2017

Get Your FREE Book to Learn ESL

This is a book on the basics for all ESL learners. Learning English as a second language is not an easy task with respect to speaking and writing. In speaking English, one has to adjust to certain phonetic sounds that are unique to the English language. In writing English, one has to learn new words and phrases, as well as idioms and colloquial expressions, in addition to the complexity of the English grammar.

Having said that, knowing the basics, and following the right pathway, you can still master ESL and speak and write as if English is your native language. Learning ESL is all about practice, practice, and more practice, with the right know-how.

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Stephen Lau