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, July 29, 2019

The Appropriate use of Words and Phrases

Effective writing means trying to avoid the overuse of clich├ęs (overused catch phrases and figures of speech)

e.g. busy NOT busy as a bee

e.g. confront the truth NOT face the music

e.g. everyone NOT each and every one

e.g. finally NOT last but not the least

e.g. firstly NOT first and foremost

e.g. gentle NOT gentle as a lamb

e.g. infrequent or seldom NOT few and far between

e.g. obviously NOT it goes without saying

e.g. seldom NOT once in a blue moon

Avoid weakling modifiers. Most of the following weakling modifiers can be removed without changing the meaning of a sentence:

e.g. actually

e.g. both

e.g. certainly

e.g. comparatively

e.g. definitely

e.g. herself, himself, itself, themselves

e.g. needless to say

e.g. particularly

e.g. per se

e.g. really

e.g. relatively

e.g. very

To use these weakling modifiers occasionally is permissible, but to use them frequently makes your writing ineffective.

Figures of speech add life and vividness to writing. Figures of speech compare one thing abstract with another thing, which is usually literal or concrete.

Metaphors

Metaphors are implied comparisons.

e.g. After listening to the speech of the senator, I was a volcano within although I was still calm without.

e.g. He is a hog at mealtime.

 Similes

Similes are direct comparisons to bring out the imagination of the readers.

e.g. After listening to the speech of the senator, I was like a volcano about to erupt although I was still calm on the outside.

e.g. He eats like a hog.

Similes always use words as or like.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Brainstorming Your Writing

Beginning to write begins with an idea or a topic you want to share with or to communicate to others.

Choice

You must have an inordinate interest in that idea or topic for various reasons: you are passionate about it; you strongly believe it is right or wrong; you want to analyze or discuss it in detail; you wish others may share  or even support your views. Or, simply, you may not have a choice: you have been assigned to write about the subject.

Brainstorming

You must brainstorm that idea or topic. Your mind may come up with many thoughts about that idea or topic. You jot down all your relevant thoughts simply by asking yourself some relevant questions regarding what you are going to write about:

What happened?

How did it happen?

When did it happen?

Why did it happen?

What does it mean?

What is its significance?

What is it similar to?

What is it different from? 

Is it true or false?

Are there examples?

What do people think?

Who do you think?

Keep a journal for your brainstorming. The word “journal” comes from French, meaning “daily.” A journal is a day-to-day record of what you see, do, hear, think, and feel. Use a journal to jot down any idea that comes to your mind. Regular recording enhances your power of observation, which improves your writing skill.

Stephen Lau     
Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Saturday, July 27, 2019

Expressions Commonly Confused By ESL Learners


EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY CONFUSED BY ESL LEARNERS

DRIFT


Drift apart
: separate slowly.


e.g. He drifted apart from his friends and lived a secluded life.


Drift back
: go back to someone or something slowly.


e.g. He drifted back to her former girlfriend, and they were married.


Drift off to sleep
: fall asleep gradually.


e.g. He sat on the sofa, and finally drifted off to sleep.


ARGUE


Argue about: dispute or quarrel with someone over.


e.g. They often argue about racial injustice over the dinner table.


Argue against: make a case against someone or something.


e.g. My wife and I often argue against what is best for our child.

EASE


Ease someone of something: to relieve or reduce someone of something.


e.g. The doctor eased me of my back pain.


Ease off: diminish; let up doing something.


e.g The rain has eased off; we'd better leave now.


e.g. Come on, he's just a kid. Ease off!


DIFFER

Differ about: disagree about.


e.g  We differ about who should be the next president.


Differ from: be different from


e.g. How does this one differ from that one?


Differ in: be different in a specific way.


e.g. This one and that one differ in color.


Differ with: disagree with.


e.g. I differ with you on many things.


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Correct Use of Semi-Colon


Semicolon is one of the punctuation marks frequently misused in writing.

A semicolon is used between a dependent clause and an independent clause.

e.g. Although he was very tired; he did not want to go to bed. (incorrect)

e.g. Although he was very tiredhe did not want to got to bed. (a comma should be used instead)

A semicolon is used to introduce a list.

e.g. The box was filled with everything but booksclothing, snacks, hammers and tools. (incorrect)

e.g. The box was filled with everything but booksclothing, snacks, hammers and tools. (a colon should be used instead)

A semicolon is not used between an introductory phrase and the rest of the sentence.

e.g. Her hands tremblingshe managed to pour the toxic liquid into the tube. (incorrect)

e.g. Her hands tremblingshe managed to pour the toxic liquid into the tube (a comma should be used instead)


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, July 22, 2019

Prepositional Words and Phrases

GO

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.


HOLD

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

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

Horse around: play around nosily and roughly.
e.g Stop horsing around! It's time to go home!

ABIDE

Abide by: follow a set of rules.

e.g. We must abide by all the instructions from the Mayor.

Abide with: stay with someone.

e.g. She is your wife; you must abide with her no matter what.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Learning and Mastering English

American Idioms

All of it: the best
e.g. From the way he presented himself at the debate, he was all of it.
 Far cry from: very different from
e.g. Your achievement this time is a far cry from your previous one.

Sit on one’s hands: refuse to give any help
e.g. When we needed your help; you just sat on your hands.

As easy as pie: very easy
e.g. Cooking a turkey is as easy as pie.
Alive and kicking: living and healthy; okay
e.g. I had been sick for some time, but now I am alive and kicking.”
e.g. “How are you?” “Well, alive and kicking.”

Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Make no odds: make no difference
e.g. It makes no odds to me whether you come or not.

No oil painting: ugly.
e.g. To tell the truth, the dress you bought me is no oil painting.

Pardon my French: excuse my bad language.
e.g. Please pardon my French: I was so angry with his remarks.

Not a patch on: nothing to compare with; very inferior to.
e.g. Your current proposal is not a patch on your previous one.

Fall over oneself: too eager.
e.g. He fell over himself to get that job.

All the rage: fashionable.
e.g. Wearing a hat will be all the rage this summer.

Slow on the uptake: slow to understand.
e.g. I'm a bit slow on the uptake. Can you explain it once more?

Choice of Words

Adverse / Averse

Adverse means unfavorable; averse means opposed to.

e.g. We managed to survive in these adverse economic conditions.
e.g. He was averse to giving financial aids to the poor.

Await / Wait

Await means wait for an event, an occurrence, or a development; it does not require a preposition, such as for. Wait always carries the preposition for.

e.g. We await your decision.
e.g. The people were awaiting the outcome of the election.
e.g. He is waiting for your reply.
e.g. Don't wait for me; just go ahead.

Prepositional Words and Phrases

Follow on: die at a date later than someone.
e.g. His wife passed away. He followed on a few months later.

Follow through: continue to supervise.
e.g. I hope someone would follow through on this project until its completion.

Follow up:  check something out.
e.g. Please follow up this lead, and see what will happen next.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Learning and Mastering English




Friday, July 12, 2019

Idiomatic Verbal Phrases

KEEP

Keep at: continue to do.

e.g. You must keep at it until it is done.

Keep down: prevent from advancing.

e.g. His lack of an advanced degree will keep him down in his career.

Keep on: continue.

e.g. Keep on, and don't give up!

e.g. Keep on with your good work.

Keep up: maintain the pace.

e.g. Keep up and don't fall behind.

e.g. You have to work extra hard to keep up with the rest of the class.

CLEAR

Clear of: show someone is innocent.

e.g. After the investigation, the police cleared me of all charges.

Clear off: depart.

e.g. As soon as the police arrived, the crowd cleared off.

Clear out: get out of some place.

e.g. The fire alarm is on; everybody has to clear out!

Clear up: clarify something; improve.

e.g. Can you clear up this statement for me?

e.g. His cold cleared up after a week.

e.g. The sky finally cleared up, and we could see the sun.

Clear with: get the approval of.

e.g. We will have to clear this with the Mayor’s office.

DRESS

Dress down: scold severely.

e.g. The manager dressed him down in front of all the employees.

Dress up: put clothes on; adorn.

e.g. Wow! Look at you! You really get dressed up for the party in this fancy dress!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau