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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Confusing Words

Accountable to / Accountable for
Accountable to someone; accountable for something
 (meaning "responsible for").

e.g. The CEO is accountable to the Board; he has to be accountable for all his business decisions.

Hail / Hale
Hail means to greet or salute.

e.g. "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."

Hale means healthy and strong.

e.g. A man is hale when his complexion is rosy

Noteworthy / Noticeable
Noteworthy means deserving attention; noticeable means easily seen.

e.g. The candidate's accomplishments are noteworthy.
e.g. The flaws in the Governor's character are easily noticeable to the public.

Providing that / Provided that
Providing that is incorrect.

e.g. You can go out to play provided (that) you have finished your homework. (meaning: on condition that)
e.g. You can keep the book for another week providing that no one has reserved it (incorrect: provided that should be used instead)
e.g. The millionaire has helped the poor, providing many of them with food and shelter. (correct; meaning: giving or offering)

Indoor Indoors
Indoor is an adjective; indoors is an adverb.

e.g. Bowling is an indoor game.
e.g. It's going to rain; let's go indoors.

Welcome / Welcomed
Welcome is an adjective or a verb; welcomed is a participle.

e.g. You are most welcome.
e.g. This is a welcome party for all newcomers.
e.g. I like to welcome all of you.
e.g. The guests were welcomed by all of us in front of the house.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Use of Tenses

To write well, you need to know how to use English tenses correctly. Tenses are difficult to many because in many languages tenses are not used to express "time" or the "relationship of sequence"; instead, adverbs, such as "yesterday", "tomorrow", "soon" etc. are used.

To learn how to use English tenses correctly, you must have a perception of the "time" element.
Let's take a looks at present tense, present continuous tensepresent perfect tensepast tense, and past perfect tense with the following examples:

PAST<----------------------------------------------------->PRESENT

lived in Texas.   *                            

had lived in Texas for more than 20 years.  *****       

I moved to Ohio 5 years ago.  *                                  Now, I live in Ohio.

                                                                                     I am living in Ohio. **

                                                                     I have lived in Ohio for 5 years. *****

"I lived in Texas" (past tense): an action in the past; it was a fact. (*)

"I had lived in Texas for more than 20 years." (past perfect tense): an action that "continued" (****)for some time in the past.
"I moved to Ohio 5 years ago" (past tense): an action in the past; it was a fact (*)

"Now I live in Ohio." (present tense): an action in the present; it is a fact. (*)

"I am living in Ohio." (present continuous tense): an action in the present, and it may continue for some time into the near future.**

"I have lived in Ohio for 5 years." (present perfect tense): an action in the past that has continued into the present, and will probably continue into the near future. *****

Hopefully, the above examples have demonstrated how you should use some of the English tenses correctly.

Stephen Lau

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

Monday, March 29, 2021

Basic Tools for Effective Writing



To learn how to write well, you need some basic tools.

Getting Some Basic Tools


Effective writing requires lifelong learning and finding answers to all your questions about writing. Accordingly, you need to get some basic tools for your effective writing: 

A dictionary 

Use a dictionary to find out what words mean and to make sure that words mean what you think they mean.


Use a dictionary to see a word in context so that you have better understanding of how that word should be used in your own writing.


Use a dictionary to find out the preferred spelling of a word because the same word can be spelled differently.


Use a dictionary to determine the usage of a word, such as the preposition that normally goes with it


A thesaurus

A thesaurus may help you find the right word to use. Sometimes you cannot recall a certain word that you may wish to use; in that case, a dictionary may not be able to help you. A thesaurus provides words and phrases that are close in meaning. 

Understanding the Purpose of Writing 

You write not just for your teachers or your readers, but, more importantly, for yourself. There are several reasons why you should write: 

Writing may be a part of your job description. Writing letters, memos, reports, minutes of meetings, and sending e-mails may be your daily tasks at your workplace.


Writing affords you an opportunity to explore yourself—your thoughts and feelings. Writing is often a journey of self-discovery: you begin to find out more about who you are, and what your values are. Writing is more than an expression of self: it creates the self. To that end, you can write a diary or journal for self-expression. Regular journal writing not only improves your writing skill but also expands your thinking.


Writing helps you organize your thinking. Effective writing requires you to put your random thoughts into a coherent pattern. Through writing, you learn to mentally articulate your ideas in a more logical and systematic way. Writing regularly improves your logic and sharpens your power of reasoning.


Writing enhances your ability to use language for specific purposes. You begin to realize how some writers use manipulative language to persuade others. Accordingly, you learn to “read between the lines” as well as to recognize the truths from the myths.


Writing is an effective means of communication with others. Even when you write an e-mail to your friends, you have to make yourself intelligible by writing what you mean and meaning what you write.


Writing is an important communication skill. Reap all the benefits of writing by learning how to write. Make a virtue out of your necessity.


What separates EFFECTIVE WRITING Made Simple from other books on how to improve your writing skill?


Firstly this book is presented in a simple and easy-to-follow format: it is easy to read and understand. Secondly, this book is comprehensive: it covers every aspect of good writing—from basic grammar, correct sentences, effective use of words, paragraph development, to style and usage. With many examples and illustrations, this book is like a handy manual at your fingertips for easy reference. Effective writing is an essential communication skill in inter-personal relationships and in almost every profession.



Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Sunday, March 28, 2021

Learning English Resources

American Idioms

First and foremost: first of all
e.g. To lose weight, you must, first and foremost, stop eating junk food.

Bad sort: an unpleasant person
e.g. He is a bad sort; nobody likes him.

Not born yesterday: not young or foolish.
e.g. Don't give me all that crap! I wasn't born yesterday.

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

In bad sorts: in a bad humor
e.g. What’s the matter with you? You seem to be in bad sorts. Is it the weather or something else?

Sit tight: wait patiently
e.g. Just relax and sit tight!

Skeleton in the closet: a hidden and shocking secret
e.g. That he was a gay was skeleton in the closet.

Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Shoot off: depart quickly.
e.g. You'd better shoot off before the storm comes.

Not in the same street: not in the same class or category.
e.g. Of course, my car in not in the same street as yours: you paid a lot more.

Go down with: be accepted or approved by.
e.g. The President's speech went down with the Spanish community.

Alive and kicking: in good health.
"How is she doing?" "Very much alive and kicking."

Choice of Words

Endure / Persevere

Endure means to bear bravely; persevere means to keep on doing.

e.g. It is not easy to endure the physical pain.
e.g. In spite of all the difficulties, he persevered with his plans.

Exhausting / Exhaustive
Exhausting means making one very tired; exhaustive means very thorough, covering a lot.

e.g. To remove all the books from this room is exhausting work.
e.g. This is an exhaustive inquiry, covering every aspect of what happened.

Baleful / Baneful
Baleful means evil; baneful means harmful.

e.g. I don't like your friend, especially the baleful looks on his eyes. 
e.g. Don't drink too much alcohol; beware of its long-term baneful effect on your health.

Indoor / Indoors
Indoor is an adjective; indoors is an adverb.

e.g. Bowling is an indoor game.
e.g. It's going to rain; let's go indoors.

Prepositional Words and Phrases

HEAD

Head off: intercept or divert someone or something.

e.g. I think we can head off the problem this time.
e.g. Don't worry. We can head it off with another new project

Head out: begin a journey.

e.g. What time do we head out tomorrow morning?

Head up: be in charge of something.

e.g. I think I shall head up the committee soon.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Learning and Mastering English



Saturday, March 27, 2021

English and American Slang

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 the media.

Easy on the eye: good looking.
e.g. I say, your girlfriend is easy on the eye.

Beefcake: a muscular man.
e.g. She has been dating a beefcake.
e.g. He goes to the gym regularly because he wants to be a beefcake.

Caught short: caught at a disadvantage.
e.g. The market plunged, and we were caught short just as thought we were on the road to recovery..

Killer: a very funny joke.
e.g. That last one was really a killer;  everybody laughed.

Kick back: relax and enjoy.
e.g I really want to kick back and enjoy the music.

Daylight robbery: too costly.
e.g. That’s daylight robbery; to pay $300 just to fix this!

Not in the same street: of a different quality (usually inferior).
e.g. These two dresses may look similar, but they are not in the same street. This one looks much more elegant than that one.

Alive and kicking: in good health.
e.g. "How is your grandmother doing?" "Very much alive and kicking."

Bad shot: wrong guess.
e.g. “He came with his wife, didn’t he?” “Bad shot: he came all by himself.”

In a jiffy: soon.
e.g. The manager will see you in a jiffy.

Next to nothing: hardly anything.
e.g. “Did she leave you anything at all?” “Well, next to nothing.”

Not so dusty: quite good.
e.g. Well the performance was not so dusty; much better than I expected.

Whistle for: wish in vain.
e.g. The stock market has fallen sharply. You can whistle for your money invested.

Head above water: out of debt.
e.g. Nowadays, it is not easy to keep your head above water.

Mean-green: money.
e.g. Can I borrow a little mean-green from you?

Break a leg: good luck!
e.g. "I'll have my first piano competition tomorrow." "Break a leg!"


Stephen Lau

Friday, March 26, 2021

Knowing Their Differences

SEDATIVE / SEDENTARY

Sedative: calming or soothing.
e.g. Without her sedative medicine, she could not go to sleep.

Sedentary: accustomed to sitting; physically inactive.
e.g His sedentary work -- sitting in front of the computer -- took a toll on his health.
e.g. Most seniors have a sedentary lifestyle as they continuing e to age.

ANXIOUS / EAGER

Anxious means worried; eager means impatiently desirous.
e.g. He was anxious about his future.
e.g. The children are eager to open their Christmas presents.

FRAGILE / FRAIL

Fragile: delicate, easily broken.
e.g. This piece of antique is fragile; please handle with care.

Frail: weak in health; without strong support.
e.g. He looks pale and frail.
e.g. The Senator received frail support from his party.

PERIODIC / PERIODICAL

Periodic: occurring again and again.
e.g. The singer has never really retired with periodic appearance on TV.

Periodical: published at regular intervals.
e.g. This is a periodical magazine -- published once a month.
   
REMOVABLE / REMOVED

Removable: can be dismissed or removed.
e.g. This is a removable position, not a permanent one.

Removed: distant, remote, separate.
 e.g. He is my removed relative.

IMPAIR / REPAIR

Impair: weaken or repair.
e.g. Spending too much time on the computer may impair your vision.

Repair: fix
e.g. Eye exercises can repair your vision

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Some American Idioms for You

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.

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

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

Poop out: tire out
e.g. The marathon race pooped me out; I could hardly walk.

Make as if: pretend
e.g. You made as if you enjoyed the film, but you really didn’t.

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.

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© by Stephen Lau