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.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Some Common Colloquial Expressions

It blows my mind: it's amazing, almost unbelievable.

e.g. "Did you hear that he passed the exam with flying colors?" "It blows my mind."

Can't beat that: no one can do better than that.

e.g. Of all people, I finished the project in less than a week. Can't beat that!

As luck would have it: being very fortunate.

e.g. I dropped my wallet at the supermarket. As luck would have it, the manage picked it up and announced it over the PA system. 

Can't get enough of: like it very much.

e.g. I just can't get enough of this warm sunshine.

Call for an apology: demand an apology.

e.g. Your reckless behavior calls for an apology.

Fly off the handle: become angry and emotionally upset.

e.g. As soon as he heard the bad news, he flew off the handle.

Beats me: I don't know; I've no idea.

e.g. "Do you know how this works?" "Beats me."

Get right on it: do it immediately.

e.g. "Can you help me with this software?" "I'll get right on it."

Give it a rest: stop talking.

e.g. "I've heard enough. Give it a rest!"

I can live with that: I'm okay with that; I'll get used to it.

e.g. "That one may cost more." "I can live with that."

It could have been worse: accept an apology.

e.g. "I'm sorry I broke your glass." "It could have been worse."

Keep one's shirt on: calm down; don't get too excited.

e.g. "Cool off! Keep your shirt on. This is not the end of the world."

I am like you: we share the same opinion.

e.g. "I don't like cheese in my food." "I am like you: cheese makes me feel sick."

I spoke too soon: spoke without getting all the facts.

e.g. "You were wrong about that." "I'm sorry. Maybe I spoke too soon."

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Learning Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Learning a language takes time and effort, especially if it is not your first language. Even if it is your mother tongue, you still need time and effort to master it because almost every language has its own slang and colloquial expressions, and the English language is no exception.

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. 

Get this book here.

Also, read my other book on American Idioms

Stephen Lau

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Learn How To Punctuate

To write well, you need to know how to punctuate your sentences.

Commas and full-stops (periods) are most often used.

You use commas to separate compound sentences. A compound sentence is made up of 2 or more simple sentences. First of all, a simple sentence has a subject, a verb, and or an object.

e.g. He laughed. (simple sentence: subject + verb)
e.g. He laughed at me. (simple sentence: subject + verb + object)
e.g. He left the room. (simple sentence: subject + verb + object)
e.g. I was all by myself. (simple sentence: subject + verb+ complement)

However, you cannot join two or more simple sentences together without a coordinating conjunction (andbutornorforso, yet)

e.g. He laughed at me, he left the room. (incorrect: there is no coordinating conjunction)
e.g. He laughed at me, and (he) left the room.(correct)
e.g. After he laughed at mehe left the room.(correct: "he laughed at me" becomes a subordinate clause and no longer a simple sentence with the addition of the subordinating conjunction "after")
e.g. He laughed at meleft the room, and I was all by myself. (correct)

You may or may not need a comma for a compound or complex sentence. A complex sentence is made up of a simple sentence and one or more subordinate clauses (a subordinate clause is an incomplete sentence joined to a simple sentence by a subordinating conjunction, such as afterwhensince etc.

e.g. He saw me and he shook my hands. (a compound sentence joining 2 simple sentences by a coordinating conjunction: "and": " he saw me" and "he shook my hands")

A comma before and is optional. If you think the sentence is too long or the meaning is misleading, you may want to add a comma.

By the same token, if you think the complex sentence is too long, then you may want to add a comma.

e.g. When he saw me walking with the Mayor along the corridor, he shook my hands.
e.g. He shook my hands when he saw me. (without the comma)

I hope you have learned the following: a simple sentence, a compound sentence, a coordinating clause, a subordinating clause, and the use of comma.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Learn Some Prepositional Words and Phrases


Muddle along: continue in confusion.

e.g. Without clear instructions, some employees simply muddled along.

Muddle around: work inefficiently.

e.g. Many employees were laid off because they were muddling around.


Screw around with: play around with, usually not doing anything positive (slang).

e.g. Don’t screw around with that guy and waste your time!

Screw up: mess up; spoil.

e.g. See, you’ve screwed up my plan! I wish you hadn’t come.


Touch on: mention briefly.

e.g. The professor barely touched on the subject of Civil War.

Touch up: repair.

e.g. Can you touch up the scratches on the door?


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?


Gouge out: cheat someone out of something.

e.g. Don’t try to gouge some money out of that poor old man.


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.


Inch across: creep slowly across.

e.g. The injured dog inched across the bridge.

Inch back: go back slowly.

e.g. The army inched back as we fired our guns.

Inch over: move back a little.

e.g. Can you inch over a little? I can’t get in


Ground in: instruct.

e.g. We should ground our children in love and values as they grow up.

Ground on: form a foundation for.

e.g. His intelligence was grounded on reading books on wisdom.


Let down: disappoint.
e.g. I put my hope on you; don't let me down.

Let out: release.

e.g. Don't let out your anger on me!
e.g. He was let out of prison after he was found not guilty of the crime.

Let up: decrease in intensity.

e.g After a while, the rain let up.


Hand down: deliver; leave as an inheritance.

e.g. We have handed down all the information to our associates.
e.g. When he dies, he will hand down his business to his family, and not before.

Hand in: submit.

e.g. I have handed in my resignation; tomorrow will be my last day in the office.

Hand over: yield control of.

e.g. The manager has handed over the human resources section to the assistant manager.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, June 4, 2018

Learn Some Idiomatic Expressions

Learn Some Idiomatic Expressions

Late in life: in old age
e.g. It was only late in life that he became a famous writer.

Afraid of one’s own shadow: easily frightened.
e.g. Don’t tell him that this is an unsafe neighborhood; he is even afraid of his own shadow.

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.

Take to one’s heels: run away
e.g. Before the police could come, the thief took to his heels.

Feel like: have a desire for something
e.g. I feel like eating a hamburger.

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

Keep abreast of: keep up with; keep updated
e.g. As a politician, you must keep abreast of what is happening around the world.

Put the finger on someone: accuse someone of some wrong-doing; inform the police
e.g. You think I took your money? Don’t try to put the finger on me!

Under a cloud: under suspicion
e.g. He has been under a cloud; the police has been investigating him for some time.

Paddle one's own canoe: do something by oneself
e.g. You're now a young adult; you should learn to paddle your own canoe.

Open a Pandora’s box
: uncover a lot of previously unsuspected problems
e.g. If I were you, I would not look into his past; you might be opening a Pandora’s box.

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.

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© 2018 by Stephen Lau