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, January 25, 2018

Learn Some Prepositional Words and Phrases

Learn some prepositional phrases:


Answer for: be responsible for.

e.g. You will have to answer for your mistakes.

Answer to: explain or justify for.

e.g. You will have to answer to the judge for what you did.


Listen to: follow the instructions of.

e.g. You never listen to what your parents tell you to do.

Listen up: pay attention to.

e.g. Listen up! You must finish this before you go.


Hold someone or something at bay: keep someone or something at a safe distance.

e.g. The bombing might be able to hold the enemies at bay, at least for a while.

Hold back on something: withhold something.

e.g. Hold back on this. We might need it in the days to come.

Hold by: stick to a promise.

e.g. I hope you will hold by this agreement.

Hold good for someone or something: remain open e.g.  an offer to someone or something.

e.g. Does it hold good for everyone, including members of the family?

Hold no brief for someone or something: not to tolerate someone or something.

e.g We should hold no brief for social injustice.

Hold off from doing something: delay or postpone doing something.

e.g. Can you hold off buying this car? We can't afford it.
Hold out: survive.

e.g. I don't think we can hold out much longer with this kind of income.

Hold a candle to someone or something: be equal to someone or something.

e.g. You don't hold a candle to your brother when it comes to playing the guitar.

Hold one's head up: be confident.

e.g.  Hold your head up when it comes to public speaking.


Fade down:  diminish.

e.g. The thunder faded down, and soon the sun came out.

Fade up: increase the sound gradually.

e.g. Let's fade up the music when the speaker finished his speech.


Horse around: play around nosily and roughly.

e.g Stop horsing around! It's time to go home!


Eat up: consume too much (figuratively).

e.g. This big project has eaten me up.


Egg on: encourage someone to do something.

e.g. She is determined to do that. You don’t need to egg her on.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, January 22, 2018

Use of Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions join unequal elements in a sentence or a clause that cannot stand by itself.

e.g. When we arrived at the station, the train had left.

e.g. We will not succeed unless we get your support.

e.g. His parents worked hard so he might have a good future.

e.g. I will help you as long as you ask me.

e.g. I will help you whenever you ask me.

e.g. I will help you provided (that) you ask me.

e.g. I will help you if you ask me.

e.g. I will not help you even you ask me.

e.g. Although I am your brother, I will not help you.

e.g. You will stay here till everything is done.

e.g. He behaved as though he were better than you.

e.g. Though he had lost his fortune, he remained cheerful.

e.g. Since spring is coming, we have to prepare the garden.

e.g. Because spring is coming, we have to prepare the garden.

Stephen Lau  
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, January 19, 2018

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, January 18, 2018

Everyday American Idioms

Idioms are words and phrases in a language that have come into existence for a variety of reasons, some obvious enough, some inexplicable, but most of them appropriately and delightfully characteristic of the race that created them. American idioms are no exception; they reflect American culture at every social level. They are used in everyday life, in speaking and in writing, in movies and on television, and by people from all walks of life.

Through thick and thin: through good times as well as bad times
e.g. Don’t worry! I’ll stick by you through thick and thin.

Meet someone halfway: compromise
e.g. He settled the agreement with her by meeting her halfway.

Name of the game: the main goal

e.g. The name of the game is winning; we must win this election no matter what.

Dog in the manger: a very selfish person
e.g. Don’t be a dog in the manger! You no longer need this; why don’t you give it to us?

Act one’s age: behave maturely
e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.

Lead someone astray: cause someone to do something wrong or illegal
e.g. If you are always in the company of lawbreakers, you  may be easily be led astray.

Had better: ought to, should
e.g. You had better finish your homework before going to bed.
Half a mind: a thought about something but without specific details
e.g. I have half a mind to close the store since the business has not been good.
Hammer out: work with great effort

e.g. We tried to hammer out a solution to the problem but without much success.
Late in the day: kind of late
e.g. Don’t you think it’s late in the day to change your tactics?

First and last: above all; under all circumstances
e.g. She was an accomplished pianist first and last.

Hit like a ton of bricks: surprise or shock
e.g. The sudden resignation of the President hit the people like a ton of bricks.

Go the distance: do the whole thing
e.g. This is a long, complicated project. To succeed, you must go the distance.

For a song: inexpensive
e.g. You can get this on the Internet for a song.

Pull the wool over someone’s eyes: deceive
e.g. Don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes: I wasn’t born yesterday.

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.

Hold one’s end up: do one’s part; reliable
e.g. I know I can count on you; you always hold your end up.

Hit the nail on the head: do exactly the right thing
e.g. Your remark hit the nail on the head; that was precisely the solution to the problem.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Prepositional Words and Phrases

Learn some common prepositional phrases:


Deliver from: save or rescue from.

e.g. The man stranded on the roof was finally delivered from danger.

Deliver of: free from burden or problem.

e.g. What a relief now that we are delivered of our debt.

Deliver up: yield something to someone.

e.g. Will you deliver up the documents to the judge?


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 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 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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Learn Some American Idioms

Idioms are words and phrases in a language that have come into existence for a variety of reasons, some obvious enough, some inexplicable, but most of them appropriately and delightfully characteristic of the race that created them. American idioms are no exception; they reflect American culture at every social level. They are used in everyday life, in speaking and in writing, in movies and on television, and by people from all walks of life. Some of them may be unfamiliar even to some Americans, especially ESL (English as a Second Language) learners.

The following are examples of common American idioms:

Earn one’s keep: help out with chores
e.g. You can stay with us, but you must earn your keep by doing the dishes.
Easier said than done: easy to say but difficult to do

e.g. Dog training is easier said than done.
In the hole: in debt
e.g. You are always in the hole because you spend too much.

Let bygones be bygones: forget all past wrongdoings
e.g. After all these years, she will not let bygones be bygones: she still holds me responsible for the tragic car accident.

Go to the dogs: deteriorate, go to ruin

e.g. If you don’t take care of your house, it will soon go to the dogs.
Late in the day: kind of late
e.g. Don’t you think it’s late in the day to change your tactics?

Just as well: good that an unexpected problem has come up
e.g. It was just as well the customer didn’t show up; we didn’t have anything ready for him.

Put in a good word for someone: say something in support of
e.g. I hope you will put in a good word for me when you see the manager.

After a fashion: somehow or somewhat
e.g. I play the piano after a fashion—well, not a concert pianist.

Drop the ball: make a mistake; fail in some way
e.g. I just can’t rely on you to do anything. You always drop the ball.

Keep someone posted: keep in touch; keep someone up to date
e.g. When you go to college, I expect you to keep us posted every now and then.

Live out of a suitcase: travel a lot
e.g. I am just tired of living out of a suitcase for so many years.

Play second fiddle: assume a less important position
e.g. I hate to play second fiddle to you, who get all the credit.

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

Monday, January 15, 2018

Words Frequently Confused and Misused

All / All of

All is used for amount, quantity, distance, and length of time.
e.g. all the money, all the way, all day, all night,
All of is used when a simple pronoun follows.
e.g. all of it, all of you, all of us.
All and all of may be used when it refers to number.
e.g. All or all of the employees are satisfied with the new policy.
e.g. All or all of the children in the family have gone to college.

Common / Commonplace

Common: shared or used by many; commonplace: ordinary, not unusual.
e.g. English is a common language used in Europe.
e.g. Nowadays, carrying a gun is commonplace.

Dutiable Dutiful

Dutiable: subject to imported tax; dutiful: showing respect and obedience.
e.g. Tobacco is often dutiable in most countries.
e.g. He is my dutiful son.

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.

Its / It’s

Its is the possessive of the pronoun “it”; It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.”
e.g. It’s a fact that the earth is round.
e.g. The company has lost its control over the market in Asia.

Judicial / Judicious

Judicial means relating to a judge or a court of law; judicious means of good judgment or wise.

e.g. As an assistant to the judge, everyday he has to go through many judicial documents.

e.g. Your judicious decision not to retire will have long-term impact on your finance.

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