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.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Prepositional Words and Phrases

A prepositional phrase is a combination of a verb with a preposition. Such a combination may give different meanings to the same verb with different prepositions. For example, the verb “ask” may result in different meanings with different prepositions:  

ASK

Ask about: find out more about.

e.g. I want to ask about my application for that position.

Ask after: ask about the health and wellbeing of someone.

e.g. My in-laws asked after you.

Ask around: request information from a number of people.

e.g. I plan to ask around to see what people think about the new mayor.

Ask back: invite someone to come again.

e.g. Because of your rudeness, they will never ask you back.

Ask for: request for someone or something.

e.g. The policeman is asking for you.

Ask of: ask of something from someone.

e.g. I want to ask a favor of you.

Ask out: invite someone to go out.
e.g. I asked her out to dinner, but she refused.

Ask over: invite someone to visit.

e.g. I asked my neighbor over to fix my computer.

Therefore, learn more prepositional phrases with different meanings when used with different prepositions.

CHECK

Check out: leave; pay bills.

e.g. We are going to check out the hotel at noon.

Check up on: investigate.

e.g. The account will check up on the sum of money unaccounted for.

RUN

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!

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Learn Some American Idioms


Pour money down the drain: waste money

e.g. It’s better to declare bankruptcy, rather than pouring money down the drain; nothing can revive the business.

Trump up: make up something untrue

e.g. The witness trumped up an excuse why he lied previously.

After all: in spite of everything

e.g. She didn’t get a good score; after all, it was her first attempt

Take one’s medicine: accept misfortune or punishment that one deserves

e.g. I messed it up; it was all my fault. I’ll take my medicine.

Late in life: in old age

e.g. It was only late in life that he became a famous writer.

Poke one’s nose into something: interfere with

e.g. I don’t like the way you poke your nose into my affairs.

Run in the family: a characteristic in all members of a family

e.g. Longevity runs in the family: they all live to a ripe old age.

Above all: most importantly

e.g. Above all, you must have a valid visa if you wish to continue to stay in the United States.

Have it coming: deserve what one gets
e.g. Failure was unavoidable. What you did had it coming.

A little bird told me: somehow I knew

e.g. “How did you know what I did?” “Well, a little bird told me.”

Tie up: engage or occupy in doing something

e.g. He was tied up at the meeting, and could not come to the phone.

Push someone to the wall: force someone into a difficult or defensive position

e.g. Don’t push him to the wall! He might even kill you!

All at sea: confused

e.g. The lawyer was all at sea when he read the two conflicting reports of the incident.

Actions speak louder than words: do something about it, not just talking about it

e.g. Show me what you have done! Actions speak louder than words.

Add insult to injury: make things worse
e.g. Enough is enough! Don’t add insult to injury.

Presence of mind: clarity of thinking

e.g. Without presence of mind, it is impossible to handle one crisis after another.

As flat as a pancake: very flat

e.g. You left front wheel tires is as flat as a pancake.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Learn Some Slang and Colloquial Expressions


Learn Some Slang and Colloquial Expressions 

Spill the beans: give information unintentionally.
e.g. "I told them that you will be on vacation next week." "It's supposed to be a secret. Well, you just spilled the beans.

Spitting image: exact image.
e.g. He has a spitting image of his brother: they are twins.

Bat along: move along smoothly.
e.g. This is not rush hour, and cars do bat along.

Bone-head: a simple-minded person
e.g. Don't be a bone-head! Do some thinking!

Blue pencil: censor.
e.g. The committee will blue pencil whatever you are going to say.

Hold one's horse: wait a minute; not immediately.
e.g. Dinner is ready, but hold your horse; wait for the host to come down!

In good nick: in good condition.
e.g. If I were you, I would buy this car; it's in good nick.

Boil over: become angry.
e.g.  Get away from him: he's boiling over with rage.

Put one's thinking cap on: seriously consider.
e.g. Well, I'll have to put my thinking cap on this before I can give you an answer.

Rake it in: earn money quickly.
e.g. If you invest in this, you can really rake it in.

Bone idle: very lazy.
e.g. She's bone idle: she never does any household chore.

Bone up on: study hard.
e.g. If you wish to pass your test, you'd better bone up on it.

Bowl over: overwhelm.
e.g. I was bowled over by all the information received at the seminar.

Pooped: exhausted.
e.g. What's the matter?  Everybody looks pooped today. We haven't even started the work!

Break down on: be a disadvantage for.
e.g. The new job broke down on me.

Breeze up: becoming frightened.
e.g. Whenever you mention terrorist attack, I have the breeze up.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Monday, April 26, 2021

The Appropriate use of Words and Phrases

Effective writing means trying to avoid the overuse of clichés (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, April 25, 2021

Success in Writing

There is no formula for success in writing. The key to success is “practice, practice, practice.” After all, writing is a skill; like any other skill, you must practice it before you can master it. You learn from your mistakes, and practicing writing improves your writing. If you write everyday, you will become a more competent and proficient writer. If you learn the mechanics and techniques of writing, your writing will become more effective. It is just a matter of time. And it is just that simple.

Writing is a learning experience for all. Anybody who wants to write learns how to write. One learns how to write by writing—just as one learns how to walk by walking. Everybody can write, as long as the heart is willing to learn and master the skill of writing.

However, to be a good writer, you must possess certain innate qualities:

An interest in words—the subtle shades of meaning between words; the power of words; the sound and rhythm of words

A knowledge of and passion for the subject—writing what you love and loving what you write

A creative mind—the creativity to visualize with vivid imagination, and to see things from different perspectives; the ability to see the relationship of the whole to its various parts

Personal discipline—time set aside to write, to re-write, to edit, and to re-edit

Willingness to learn and to improve—mastering basic writing skill through repeated practice and editing

Remember this: failing to prepare is preparing to fail.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Use of Words

Good writing means trying to avoid the overuse of clichés (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