Stephen Lau's website to help you get the wisdom to live as if everything is a miracle.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Learn These Everyday Expressions


Learn These Everyday 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.


Ask me another: I don't know.


e.g. "Does your daughter want a baby?" "Ask me another!"


Fork out: pay


e.g. Well, everybody has to fork out $30 for the farewell present to the boss.


In the picture: informed.


e.g. Thank you for putting me in the picture; now I know what's really going on.


Beat: broke, no money.


e.g. Without a job, we are beat, no copper and no bread.


Go: attempt.


e.g. Have a go at doing this on your own.


All the rage: fashionable.


e.g. Wearing a big hat will be all the rage this summer.


Answer is a lemon: no!


e.g. "Can I come with you? "The answer is a lemon!"


How goes it?: what has happened lately?


e.g. “How goes it?” “I just got married!”


In the same boat: in the same difficult situation.


e.g. I just got fired from my job; now we're in the same boat.


e.g. We're now in the same boatflat broke (meaning having no money).


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, December 6, 2018

These Words May Be Confusing


Common Commonplace


Common: shared or used by many; commonplace: ordinary and not very interesting.


e.g. Smoking in an enclosed area is common nuisance.

e.g. To be healthy and wealthy is a common New Year’s resolution.

e.g. Running may be a commonplace sport for many.


Approve / Approve of

Approve 
means pgive consent to; approve of means think well of.

e.g. Your proposal will not be approved by the committee.

e.g. We approve of our daughter’s marriage to that promising young man.


A few / Few

A few: not many with a more positive meaning; few: not many with a more negative meaning.


e.g. A few people might ask for your help (some, not too many).

e.g. We were disappointed that only few people showed up (hardly any).


Defuse / Diffuse

Defuse: decrease the danger, such as deactivate a bomb; diffuse: spread over a wide area.


e.g. It is difficult to defuse the conflicts in the Middle East.

e.g. Once you open the bottle of fragrant herbs, their scents will diffuse.


Read Peruse
Readlook at and understand; peruseread thoroughly.

e.g. Don’t just read through the document; you have to peruse it to see if there is any hidden code.


Masterful Masterly


Masterful
determined, strong-willed, like a master; masterly means having good skills.

e.g. He has demonstrated that he is a masterful personality.

e.g. This is a masterly piece of performance

Afflict: 
cause someone to suffer; inflict: punish or put a burden on someone.


e.g. For years, he has been afflicted with muscle pain.

e.g. The tyrant had inflicted punishment on those who opposed him.


Farther / Further


Father:  refers to greater distance; further:  with more or greater intensity.


e.g. Our new house is farther from the lake than from the river.

e.g. The demonstration only led to further racial tension. 


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Thursday, November 29, 2018

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




Monday, November 26, 2018

Basic Tools for Effective Writing


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.


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Friday, November 23, 2018

Singular or Plural Verbs?

Singular or Plural

The following sentences are correct, and they illustrate the uses of singular or plural verbs in some common expressions:

e.g. Fifty dollars is a lot of money to me (amount).

e.g. Two weeks of vacation is not enough (time).

e.g. One of the tables was badly damaged in the storm.

e.g. All coming and going after midnight is not allowed (a single idea)e.g. A number of books were checked out (many).

e.g. The number of students present was great (the figure).

e.g. The greater part of the land was cultivated.

e.g. The greater part of the oranges were bad.

e.g. More than one student was involved.

e.g. Screaming and shouting was heard even inside the house. (a single idea)

Majority is often confusing: it refers to number, not to the amount or quantity.

e.g. The majority of the people were women. (correct)

e.g. The majority of the eggs were bad. (correct)

e.g. The majority of the butter was bad. (incorrect)

e.g. Most of the butter was bad. (correct)

Compare the following:

e.g. The majority of children like sweets. (some do not like)

e.g. Most children like sweets. (children in general like sweets)


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau





Monday, November 19, 2018

Why Learning American Idioms

Learning American idioms is as important as learning the vocabulary, the sentence structure, and the grammar usage of American English. If you plan to stay in the United States, learning American idioms is a must.

Idioms are words and phrases in a language that have come into existence for a variety of reasons, some obvious enough, some inexplicable, but most of them appropriately and delightfully characteristic of the race that created them. American idioms are no exception; they reflect American culture at every social level. They are used in everyday life, in speaking and in writing, in movies and on television, and by people from all walks of life. 

The following are some samples of common American idioms:

Dog in the manger: a very selfish person
e.g. Don’t be a dog in the manger! You no longer need this; why don’t you give it to us?

Through thick and thin: through good times as well as bad times
e.g. Don’t worry! I’ll stick by you through thick and thin.

Inch along: move very slowly
e.g. Business was inching along because of the economy.

You bet: yes, of course
e.g. “Are you hungry?” “You bet!”

Vested interest: a personal stake
e.g. He showed a vested interest in his uncle’s business.

Have a good mind to: tend to
e.g. I have a good mind to tell you the truth.

Act one’s age: behave maturely
e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.

Under one’s own steam: by one’s own effort 
e.g. He cannot succeed under his own steam; he needs the support of his family.

Take something on the chin: get a direct blow
e.g. The bad news was a shock to me; I took it on the chin.

Hold one’s end up: do one’s part; reliable
e.g. I know I can count on you; you always hold your end up.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Use of "italics"

In English, sometimes words and phrases are slanted to the right--the use of italics. Effective writing requires the use of italics appropriately. The following  shows how to use italics effectively:

(1) Use italics for titles.

e.g. The film The Interview has caused much controversy.
e.g. Have you read Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace?

(2) Use italics for foreign words. The English language has acquired many foreign words, such as chef from France, and spaghetti from Italy, that have become part of the English language and they do not require to be put in italics.  However, many foreign words still require to be out in italics.

e.g. Gato is a Spanish word for cat.
e.g. Balance is expressed in the concept of yin and yang.

(3) Use italics for names of aircraft, ships, and trains.

e.g. Titanic  hit an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage.

(4) Use italics for emphasis, but avoid its overuse:

e.g. It is easy to find out how you can avoid credit card debt, but it is difficult to actually do it.

(5) Use italics for words, phrases, letters, and numbers used as words.

e.g. The alphabet b and d are easily confused by young children.
e.g. Do you know the difference between allude and delude?
e.g. Many people consider 13 an unlucky number.

Stephen Lau

Monday, November 12, 2018

Correct Use of Prepositions


BLOW

Blow in: visit unexpectedly

e.g. What a surprise! What blows you in ?

Blow over: end without causing harm

e.g. The Mayor expected the riot would blow over in a day or two.

Blow up: become very angry

e.g. As soon as he heard the bad news, he blew up and screamed at every one.

Touch up: repair.

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

e.g. This chair needs some touch-up.

Make up: invent; apply cosmetics; become reconciled.

e.g. He had to make up an excuse explaining why he was so late.

e.g. She made up beautifully before she put on the fancy dress.

e.g. After the heated argument, the man and his wife made up.

Run against: compete

e.g. I am going to run against him in the coming mayor election.

Die away: disappear.

e.g. The noise died away and it was silent.

Hand over: yield control of.

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

Call off: cancel

e.g. Due to the bad weather, the meeting was called off.

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

Walk over: go to where someone is.

e.g.  I have something to give to you. Can you walk over?

Back down: retreat from a position in an argument.

e.g. Knowing that he did not have a valid point, he backed down.

e.g. We cannot back out of the contract; we are legally obligated to do what we are supposed to do.

Back up: support

e.g. Are you going to back me up if I decide to go ahead with the project?

Gain in: advance in something.

e.g. As you age, you may gain in wisdom.

Gain on: begin to catch up with.

e.g. We were able to gain in on the car in front of us.

Gain dominion over: achieve authority or control over.
e.g. We were able to gain dominion over our enemies.

Dally over something: waste time doing something.

e.g. Don't dally over your food. Just eat it!

Dally with: flirt with someone.

e.g. Don't dally with that girl; she has no interest in you.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau