Your “prayers not answered” means your “expectations not fulfilled.” The TAO wisdom explains why: your attachments to careers, money, relationships, and success “make” but also “break” you by creating your flawed ego-self that demands your “expectations to be fulfilled.”

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Get My New Book for FREE!

"The TAO of Healing Myasthenia Gravis" by Stephen Lau

This NEW book is now FREE for download. 

This NEW book is about the ancient TAO wisdom to heal myasthenia gravis, one of the many autoimmune diseases, which has no cure according to conventional Western medicine, except using steroid medications to control its many disease symptoms.

This book is based on the author's own battle against his myasthenia gravis some three decades ago.  Healing begins with the mind, and not the body. That is why the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China more than 2,600 years ago, may help you not only to cope with the disease symptoms but also to self-intuit the wisdom to heal any disease that you may have. 

This 200-page book provides you with a compass and a roadmap for you to go on your own long healing journey that does not have a destination.

Get this FREE BOOK only on this FRIDAY, SATURDAY, and SUNDAY (January 17-19, 2020) by clicking here to download your e-book for free during its promotion period.

Don't miss this opportunity!

Stephen Lau

Learn Some Slang

Learn some English slang. Slang is highly ephemeral: it changes from one generation to another. Slang terms come into existence for various reasons, some obvious, some inexplicable, but most of them are delightfully direct and to the point. The use of slang adds spice to speech and writing.

in low water: short of money
e.g. In this economic time, many people are living in low water.

stunner: an attractive person or object
e.g. This necklace is a stunner on you.

flap one's mouth: talk too much
e.g. Shut up and don't flap your mouth!

off the nail: drunk
e.g. Every time I come home, I find him off the nail with a bottle in his hand.

ditch: abandon
e.g. He's not a trustworthy person: he's going to ditch you before long.

flattened out: broke; having no money
e.g. I tell you what: I'm flattened out!

something out of a bottle: an impracticable idea
e.g. Is your suggestion something out of a bottle?

stuffed shirt: an arrogant person
e.g. He's nothing but a stuffed shirt; nobody likes him.

do oneself proud: indulge in unusual and satisfying extravagance
e.g. Now that he has inherited the family fortune, he's going do himself proud.

fat lot: extremely little
Did you win a lot at the casino? Fat lot!


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Correct Use of Pronouns

According to a Stanford University Study, using the wrong words is common in English writing, particularly in ESL learners.

So, be careful with your choice of words. Let’s take a look at the use of pronouns.

Possessive pronouns are: mine, yours, ours, his, hers.

This book is mine. = This is my book.
This pen is yours. = This is your pen.
This chair is ours. = This is our chair.
This car is his. = This is his car.
This hat is hers. = This is her hat.
This is its origin. = This is the origin of it.

APOSTROPHES are added to nouns to show possession.

e.g. The manager’s assistant (singular); the managers’ assistant (plural).

APOSTROPHES are added to pronouns to show contraction.

e.g. It’s = it is; they’re = they are; we’re = we are; he’s = he is; she’s = she is.

Notice the difference between subject pronoun and object pronoun.

e.g. He and I took part in the competition. (not me)

e.g. It was I who won the medal. (not me)

e.g. Please discuss this between him and me. (not between he and I)

e.g. You will have to ride with him and me. (not with he and I)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Difficult But Common Words

Focus on learning some of the most popularly used difficult-but-common words in the English language. The objective here is to familiarize yourself with the most common senses of the difficult words you are most likely to come across. 

Opulent: having wealth and luxury

e.g. Now that he had filed for bankruptcy, it would be difficult for him to maintain his opulent lifestyle.

Insolent: rude and disrespectful

e.g. He was simply offering his advice out of goodwill, but your response was insolent and inappropriate.

Malleable: easily adaptable or changeable

e.g. In this economic environment, people are malleable to economic reforms.

Emanate: come from a source

e.g. The sounds emanating from next door were so disturbing that we finally called the police.

Flaunt: to show off in an ostentatious way

e.g. Nobody likes her because she is always flaunting her wealth in her jewels and her furs.

Homage: high respect or honor

e.g. Even the Queen paid homage to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country.

Contrition: sadness or remorse over past wrong actions

e.g. The judge gave him the maximum sentence because he showed no contrition even when confronted by his victims.

Baneful: harmful or destructive influence

e.g. The custody of the children was taken from the parents because of the baneful influence of their lifestyle on their children.

Fledgingyoung and inexperienced.

e.g. As a fledging reporter, he was quite nervous when he interviewed the President.

Catch-22: an impossible situation, a predicament

e.g. He found himself in a catch-22: he could not stay, but he did not have the means to leave.

Debaclea complete failure

e.g. The bailout, to many, was a financial debacle.

Obliqueindirect or unclear.

e.g. The young man’s testimony was oblique to be of any use as a witness for the police.

Consternationsudden amazement.

e.g. The plunge of the Dow Jones Industrial Average caused a great deal of consternation in the financial markets worldwide.

Incorrigibleincapable of being reformed (often used in a lighthearted, ironic sense).

e.g. You’re incorrigible, forever getting into scrapes and causing mischief.

Elucidate: explain in full or make clear

e.g. To throw more light on the issue, the President began to elucidate his statement.

Cumbersomehard to manage, or troublesome

e.g. The task of tidying up the entire basement is not only exhaustive but also cumbersome to a nine-year-old kid.

Incognito: hidden or unknown with the purpose of intentionally changing appearance.

e.g. Many movie stars wear dark sunglasses in hopes of remaining incognito at public places.

Nether: lower, such as the nether regions of something are the parts that lie beneath or beyond the main part.

e.g. Dante takes the reader on a journey to the nether regions of hell.

Clandestinesecretive or kept hidden from authorities.

e.g. Nowadays, terrorists may use the Internet for their clandestine communication with one another.

Déjà vu (pronounced as day-zhuh VOO): (French) something “already seen” in the past.

e.g. If you still remember the decoration and design of last year's exhibition, you will have a sense of deja vu when visiting this year's exhibition.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, January 13, 2020

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

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Idiomatic Expressions for Effective Writing

Idiomatic expressions are sentences or phrases whose meanings cannot be easily worked out from the words they contain. As an ESL learner, avail yourself the opportunity to learn some common idiomatic expressions every day. Here are some common ones:

In the clear: safe, secure; out of debt.

e.g. He was suspected of driving under the influence, but now he is in the clear.
e.g. After paying back his gambling debts, he is now in the clear.

Get cracking (informal): start doing something; it is similar to get going.

e.g. Let's get cracking, we still have much to finish before the day is over.
e.g. We'd better get going if we don't want to miss the flight.

For good: for ever.

e.g. After their quarrel, she left him for good.
e.g. In the accident, our new car was totaled (destroyed) for good. 

In the raw: without material comforts; very poor.

e.g. If you had been a refugee, you would know what it would be like living in the raw.

In the same boat: in the same bad situation.

e.g. We are in the same boat now that I,  too, have lost my job.

Gt something into one's head: get an idea stuck into one's head; become obsessed or stubborn with an idea.

e.g. Don't get it into your head that she will never help you financially; after all, she is your mother.

Strange to say: surprisingly.

e.g. The car plunged into the waterfall; strange to say, the drive survived without any injury.

For a song: very cheaply

e.g. Do you want my car? I'l sell it to you for a song.

Red-letter day: a very important day.

e.g. Tomorrow is a red-letter day: my son is getting married.

Also, learn some American idioms: Everyday American Idioms for ESL Learners.

Look here: emphasizing a point.

e.g. "Look here, I can't help you right now; I'm cooking our dinner."

e.g. "Look here, it was impolite to talk to your parents like that."

Stephen Lauctive Writing

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, January 11, 2020

How to Develop and Expand Your Ideas

To write effectively, you must know not only how to write correct sentences but also how to use your sentences to expand and develop your ideas. 

Develop Your Topic 

After introducing your topic, you begin to develop it by giving it more substance. Before you do that, you need to help your readers follow the flow of thought, which is expressed in the following: 

Point of View 

This relates to how you present a subject. It can be explicit or implicit; it can be personal or impersonal.

Personal tone: You play the role of the writer openly and directly. In this approach, you frequently use I, me, and my.

Impersonal tone: You keep your personality below the surface.

Your point of view should be stated or implied in the opening paragraph, and maintained consistently throughout your writing. Remember the following:

Select your point of view appropriate to your subject.

Establish your point of view in the beginning paragraph.

Maintain your point of view consistently. 


This reflects your personality in your writing. Your tone is inevitably implied in the choice of words you use, how you use them, and their arrangement within your writing. You reveal your tone towards your subject (it can be objective, subjective, or even angry), and towards your reader (it can be assertive or intimate). 

Plan Your Writing

 Begin your statement of purpose

Now that you have pulled in all your ideas for what you are going to write, begin your statement of purpose. Writing one to two paragraphs describing what you are going to say.

Remember the following:

This statement of purpose is for yourself, not your readers.

You have to think about what you can say before you can think of what you are going to say. 

Ideas have to be sought, and then arranged accordingly. 

Writing the Introduction 

Introductions serve the following purposes:

Setting the tone of your writing

Defining your purpose

Drawing your readers into your writing

Ways for effective introductions

Begin with a relevant quotation that leads to the subject.

Begin with some background information that leads to the subject.

Begin with a relevant question that leads to the subject.

Begin with directly speaking to your readers in an imaginary situation related to the subject.

Begin with a relevant anecdote that leads to your subject.

What to avoid in introductions

Avoid making obvious general statements.

Avoid making personal statements, such as the use of I.

Avoid making statements that lead to nowhere. 

Planning the Outline 

Divide your subject with all its ideas into major parts, and then into subparts. Your plan provides a guideline for you. You can always update and make changes to your outline.

Expanding the Writing

You expand your writing by giving it more substance in different paragraphs, with a topic sentence in each.

A good topic sentence is concise and emphatic.

e.g. The United States is now in an economic expansion.

A topic sentence can be in the form of a rhetorical question.

e.g. Why do people go into debt?

A topic sentence is generally placed in the beginning or near the beginning of a paragraph. 

Writing the Draft

Write your draft, which is an early version of your writing. Keep writing, and don’t worry about making mistakes in your choice of words or in sentence structure. Just keep on writing, editing, and revising.

In revising, read slowly, and read aloud so that you see as well as hear your words. Revision makes you more thoughtful and critical of what you have written; you will spot mistakes in punctuation, spelling and typing, lack of clarity, or inconsistency.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

English Slang and Colloquial Expressions

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 other mass media The more you learn, the more you will know when to use or not to use them in your formal writing.

Here are some examples:

All the go: popular.

e.g. Carrying a smart phone is all the go these days
Easy on the eye: good looking.
e.g. I say, your girlfriend is easy on the eye.
Act your age: behave yourself according to your age..
e.g. You’re almost an adult. Come on, act your age, and stop behaving like a spoiled brat!
Call it a day: consider something to be done or finished.

e.g. Let’s call it a day, and just go home.

Nod is as good as a wink: take note of the hint.

e.g. I think he was trying to tell you to resign; a nod is as good as a wink.

Butter up: flatter.

e.g. Now that you have been promoted, everybody seems to butter up you.

Catch it: be scolded.

e.g. If you do this again, you’ll catch it.

Bag your face: go away!

e.g. Shut up, and bag your face!

No oil painting: ugly.

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

All hot and bothered: agitated, confused, or excited.

e.g. She was all hot and bothered when she heard the news of her daughter’s divorce.

Buy it: die.

e.g. During the car crash, I thought I was going to buy it.

Much of a muchness: practically the same.

e.g. I don’t see any difference between the twins; they’re pretty much of a muchness to me.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau