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, August 10, 2020

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


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Learning Vocabulary

Learning vocabulary may look daunting to you (you may not know the word daunting, but most probably you can still guess that it means something like "difficult"; that is how you learn a new work  by relating it to the context in a sentence), but you have to learn it cumulatively, that is, learning a few words every day. 

Corporal / Corporeal

Corporal means related to the body; corporeal means bodily and not spiritual.

e.g. Corporal punishment is no longer acceptable in schools.
e.g. We should be more concerned with our spiritual rather than our corporeal welfare.


Forbear / Forebear

Forbear means to tolerate, refrain from; forebear means an ancestor

e.g. You have to forbear from asking too many questions.
e.g.  He always takes pride in that Charles Dickens was his forebear.

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.

Everyday / Every day

Everyday is an adjective.

e.g. This is an everyday event.
e.g. This happens in every day.
e.g. Every day somebody is killed on the road.

Indispensable / Indisputable

Indispensable means absolutely necessary; indisputable means factual, without a doubt, and not arguable.

e.g. Air is indispensable to life.
e.g. It is indisputable that the verdict of the judge is final.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau




Saturday, August 8, 2020

The English Sentence


The English Sentence

In English, the number of sentences is infinite. However, within this infinity, there are FIVE patterns:

Subject + verb

e.g. An accident happened.
            (subject) (verb)

Subject + verb + object (direct)

e.g. The man took the money.
              (s)     (v)         (o)

Subject + verb + object (indirect) + object (direct)

e.g. The man give me the money.
               (s)   (v)   (o)       (o)

Subject + verb + complement (of the subject)

e.g. She is pretty.
       (s) (v) (c)

Subject + verb + object + complement (of the object) 

e.g. They elected him President.
       (s)     (v)       (o)   (c)

e.g. They made her unhappy.
       (s)     (v)     (o)  (c)

Sir Winston Churchill once said that the English sentence is a "noble thing." As such, in order to write an effective sentence, one must know what an English sentence is.

A sentence is for communicating a complete thought, a command, a question, or an exclamation.

    e.g. I love you.
    e.g. Take it.
    e.g. Is it right?
    e.g. How wonderful!

In most cases, a sentence requires at least one subject-verb combination (e.g. I came.); in some cases, a sentence can be a single word (e.g. Help!).

The basic sentence pattern or sentence structure is made up of a subject and a verb:

           Subject                 Verb
           Birds                     sing

But you can add single descriptive words (modifiers) to add more meaning to the basic sentence pattern. These words can be: an article (a, an, the); an adjective (a word to describe the noun or subject); an adverb (a word to describe the verb).

e.g. The (specify which birds) yellow birds (the color of the birds) sing beautifully. (how they sing)

You can add a phrase (made up of two or more words with no subject-verb combination) to make the sentence longer. There are different types of phrases:

1.    an infinitive phrase: to + verb e.g. to do the work, to play the piano
2. participle phrase: present participle/past participle + noun, e.g. playing the piano, the broken window
3.    prepositional phrase: under the table, in the beginning

You can add a clause (made up of words with a subject-verb combination) to make the sentence longer. There are two different types of clauses:

1.  an independent clause: communicating a complete thought, e.g. The man was singing.
2.   dependent clause: describing another clause, and not communicating a complete thought, e.g. When the man was singing (what happened?)

You can change sentences into different types by adding different clauses:

1. The simple sentence: one independent clause making one complete thought, e.g. The man was singing.
2. The compound sentence: more than one complete thought, with two or more independent clauses, e.g. The man was singing and the children were dancing.
3. The compl ex sentence: one independent clause with one or more dependent clauses, e.g. The man was singing (independent clause), when the children were dancing (dependent clause).
4.  The compound complex sentence: two independent clauses with one or more dependent clauses, e.g. The man was singing (independent clause) and the children were dancing (independent clause) when the light suddenly went out.

Effective writing is the use of different types of sentences (simple, compound, complex, compound complex) to give variety. In addition, vary the sentence length to avoid monotony in writing.

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Parallel Structure of an Effective Sentence

An effective sentence has to be parallel in structure in order to give the balance to the sentence. Therefore, when composing your sentence, be mindful of its parallel structure.

e.g. The story is about stealing money from a bank and how you hide it. (not parallel)

e.g. The story is about stealing money from a bank and hiding it. (improved; it is about stealing and hiding money)

e.g. My computer knowledge is better than you. (it does not make sense)

e.g. My computer knowledge is better than yours. (your computer knowledge)

e.g  I like him more than her. (correct: it means I like him more than I like her)

e.g. I like him more than she. (correct: it means I like him more than she likes him)

e.g. He promised his mother to finish his homework, to clean the house, and going to bed early.

e.g. He promised his mother to finish his homework, to clean the house, and to go to bed early.(improved)

e.g. I had decided to leave the country rather than staying behind.

e.g. I decided to.leave the country rather than to stay behind. (improved)

e.g. Rather than staying behind, I had decided to leave the country. (improved)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Read my book Effective Writing Made Simple. Click here for your copy.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Right Choice of Words

Adherence / Adhesion

Much more: especially in a positive sense; much less: not to mention in a negative sense.

e.g. I would help a stranger in need, much more if he is my son.

e.g. She wouldn't even look at me, much less talk to me.

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.

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.

Aside / A side

Aside is an adverb meaning apart from, in addition to, to one side; a side means on each side.

e.g. Aside from money, he also needs a place to stay.

e.g. We need to put aside some money in case of emergency.

e.g. Please stand aside so that others can move in.


e.g. The passengers sat four a side.

Irritable / Irritant

Irritable means easily made angry; irritant means causing anger or discomfort.

e.g. He has a short temper and is easily irritable.


e.g. Nobody likes him because of his irritant behavior.

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

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Confusing Words and Phrases

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