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.”

Monday, October 21, 2019

Use of Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that stands for a noun. Effective use of pronouns gives flexibility in your writing.

e.g. The manager left for New York. He took a train.

e.g. I bought a winter coat. It cost me one hundred dollars.

Relative pronouns (whowhomwhichthat) introduce clauses that describe nouns or pronouns. These relative clauses can be restrictive (that is, containing essential information), or non-restrictive (that is, containing only additional but non-essential information).

Compare the following pairs of sentences:

e.g. The man who shot the policeman was an illegal immigrant. (correct)

The relative clause above identifies the man, and therefore is essential to meaning of the sentence.

e.g. The man, who shot the policeman, was an illegal immigrant. (incorrect)

The non-restrictive relative clause above provides only additional information. The use of a non-restrictive clause with the two commas further implies that it can be deleted; however, without who shot the policeman, the sentence would not make much sense. unless you would emphasize the fact that he was an illegal immigrant. 

e.g. The reporter who took the photos is now being sued for invasion of privacy. (correct)

The relative clause above is restrictive because it identifies the reporter being sued.

e.g. The reporter, who took the photos, is now being sued for invasion of privacy. (correct)

The relative clause above becomes non-restrictive with the addition of two commas, and “who took the photos” becomes extra information non-essential to the meaning of the sentence. The sentence without the non-restrictive clause “who took the photos” would still make sense, and therefore is correct as it stands.

Knowing the difference between a restrictive and non-restrictive relative clause will help you in effective sentence construction.

Incorrect use of subjective pronouns is a common grammatical error.

e.g. My father and I went to see the show. (NOT meboth of us went to see the show)

Compare to this one” My father took me to the show.”

e.g. It is I who made the decision. (NOT memade the decision.)

e.g. The real winners are we ourselves. (NOT uswe are the real winners.)

e.g. The man who called us was who? (NOT whomwho called us?)

e.g. The woman who lost her purse was she. (NOT hershe lost her purse.)

e.g. John and he went to the movie. (NOT himboth went to the movie.)

The correct use of pronouns can be difficult with certain expressions, such as, as and more than. The following pairs of sentences are correct, but the meaning is different.

e.g. She likes him more than I. (She likes him more than like him.)

e.gShe likes him more than me. (She likes him more than she likes me.)

e.g. I like Peter better than she. (I like Peter better than she likes Peter.)

e.g. I like Peter better than her. (I like Peter better than I like her.)

Use possessive pronouns with gerunds (words ending in ing) correctly.

e.g. You don’t like my going to the movie by myself. (NOT me going: you don’t like the “going” not “me” the person.)

e.g. Your smirking irritates me. (NOT you smirking: not “you” but your “smirking” irritates me)

A pronoun must agree with its antecedent (the noun that a pronoun refers to).

e.g. All is well. (referring to the sum of all things)

e.g. All are well. (referring to a number of people)

e.g. Everyone wants to get his or her application submitted. (NOT their)

e.g. None of them is going to succeed. (NOT are: the subject is none)

e.g. Some is better than none. (referring to a quantity)

e.g. Some are good. (referring to a number of things)


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Sunday, October 20, 2019

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



Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Grammar Basics

Effective writing means knowing, learning, and understanding the grammar basics

 

Knowing the Grammatical Terms

Knowing the rules of grammar does not mean you will become a good writer, but it will certainly help you avoid bad writing. In addition, knowing the essentials of grammar may give you the following advantages:

Avoiding grammatical errors

Providing clarity to your writing

Giving credibility to your readers

Knowing grammatical terms is essential for effective writing because these grammatical terms provide a common language for talking about good writing.

Knowing the Eight Parts of Speech

Knowing grammar basics means knowing the eight parts of speech in English words and writing: 

NOUNS

A noun names a person, place, or thing.

A noun can be singular (referring to only one) or plural (referring to more than one). Generally, you make a singular noun plural by adding an “s”; however, some nouns do not follow this general rule:

e.g. enemy becomes enemies

e.g. goose becomes geese

e.g. hero becomes heroes

e.g. sheep remains sheep

Some nouns are countable, e.g. books, while some are not, e.g. hunger.

A noun can be possessive (indicating ownership).

e.g. Tom and Jerry’s house (NOT Tom’s and Jerry’s house)

e.g. Jesus sayings (NOT Jesus’s sayings)

e.g. the bottom of the page (NOT the page’s bottom)

e.g. the characters of Star Wars (NOT Star Wars characters)

A noun MUST AGREE with a verb in a sentence, that is, a singular noun requiring a singular verb, and a plural noun requiring a plural verb.

e.g. The data indicate (NOT indicates) that there is a strong demand for this type of goods. (data is the plural form of datum.)

e.g. The criteria for selection are based (NOT is) on the recommendations of the trustees. (criteria is plural)

e.g. Human rights is an important issue in this country. (singular: human rights treated as a single unit and thus requiring a singular verb)

e.g.Human rights are ignored in many parts of the world. (plural: human rights considered individual rights of people)

e.g. Four thousand dollars is a lot of money to me. (singular: a monetary unit)

A proper noun names a specific person, place, or event, e.g. Tom Cruise, Chicago, and World War I.

A proper noun is always capitalized, e.g. The Great Depression (BUT an economic depression).

VERBS

A verb expresses an action or a state of being.

Action verbs give life to sentences.

e.g. The police officer shot the suspect.

e.g. The bomb exploded.

e.g. He jumped for joy when he heard the good news.

Linking verbs complete sentences but without expressing any action.

e.g. We were unhappy.

e.g. My sister is a school teacher.

e.g. I have no money.

Some verbs can be both linking and action verbs.

e.g. The dish smells delicious. (The linking verb links to the quality of the smell; therefore, it is WRONG to say: “The dish smells deliciously.”)

e.g. The security guard’s dog smelled the man’s luggage. (an action verb)

A transitive verb carries an object; an intransitive verb does not.

e.g. The burglar took the money. (direct object: money)

e.g. My parents sent me some money. (direct object: money; indirect object: me )

e.g. The child is sleeping like a baby. (an intransitive verb)

Many verbs can be both transitive and intransitive.

e.g. We are eating our dinner. (transitive)

e.g. They are eating. (intransitive)

e.g. She sings folk songs. (transitive)

e.g. She sings beautifully. (intransitive)

Only transitive verbs can be used in the passive voice.

e.g. The suspect was shot by the police officer.

e.g. The money was taken by the burglar.

e.g. The money was sent by my parents.

Of course, there are other parts of speech you need to learn, as well, including adverbs, pronouns, adjectives, and prepositions etc. Once you are familiar with the grammar basics, then you can begin writing. With more practice, you can become an effective writing.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, October 18, 2019

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




Thursday, October 17, 2019

Learn Some Colloquial Expressions

Are you with me?: understand or agree with me.
e.g. I've been explaining this for an hour. Are you with me?

Bang out: reveal.
e.g. If you go into politics, you must be prepared to let all your secrets bang out.

Deliver the goods: do what is expected or required.
e.g. The new employee seems to deliver the goods -- very hard working and conscientious.

Say-so: permission.
e.g. Do I have your say-so to launch the project?

See with half an eye: see easily.
e.g. The mistake is so obvious: you can see it with half an eye.

Where one gets off: stop disagreeable behavior.
e.g. I'll tell him where he gets off.

The necessary: the cash.
e.g. You want to buy this car? Do you have the necessary?

The never-never: the hire-purchase system.
e.g. Renting a car puts you on the never-never.

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

Tall story: exaggerated story
e.g. No one would believe your tall story.

Tell that to the marines: do you expect anyone to believe that.
e.g. "I lost all the money at the casino." "Tell that to the marines!"

Keep one's head above water: stay out of debt or a difficult situation.
e.g. In this economic environment, it is not easy to keep your head above water.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Common English Expressions

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.

Bang-up: excellent.
e.g. We did spend a bang-up week in Greece.

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.

Lame duck: someone who needs help but undeserved.
e.g. My brother, who is always unemployed, is a lame duck to me.

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.

Catch it: be scolded.
e.g. If you do this again, you’ll catch it.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau