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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Words and Phrases Frequently Confused

The following words are frequently confused and misused by ESL learners:

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.

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.

Pretense / Pretension

Pretense is to make believe; pretension is a claim

e.g. I make no pretense to like her (I do not pretend that I like her).

e.g. I made no pretension to that award. (I never said I got that award)

Ingenious / Ingenuous

Ingenious is clever; ingenuous is natural, free from deceit.

e.g. I must say that was an ingenious way to fund the project.

e.g. His response to the question was sincere and ingenuous.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Words Commonly Misused

Here are some of the words which are commonly misused:

Good and Well

Good is an adjective; well can be an adjective or an adverb.

e.g. The food looks good. (adjective: good taste)
e.g. This is good advice. (adjective)
e.g. You look well today. (adjective: in good health)
e.g.  The engine works well. (adverb: functions efficiently)

Human and Humane

Human refers to a person; humane means considerate and merciful.

e.g. This is profound human wisdom.
e.g. This is not a humane way of treating an animal

Common and Mutual

Common refers to many or all; mutual means “reciprocal.”

e.g. This is our common interest.
e.g. Our love and respect are mutual, and that is why we can get along.

Ability and Capacity

Ability is the power to do something; capacity is the power to hold or contain.

e.g. We have the ability to finish this project on time.
e.g. This room has the capacity for a few hundred people.

Genius and Genus

Genius means a talented person; genus refers to class or kind.

e.g. Albert Einstein was a genius.
e.g.  This bird belongs to an uncommon genus.

Healthful and Healthy

Healthful means making you healthy; healthy means possessing good health.

e.g. This food is healthful.
e.g. We are not living in a healthful environment.
e.g. You are healthy, and your dog is also healthy.

If and Whether . . or

If suggests a condition; whether . . . or suggests doubt.

e.g. If it rains, we will stay home.
e.g. I wondered whether the money was stolen or not.

Inferior than and Inferior to

Inferior to means not as good as; inferior than is not a standard idiom.

e.g. My performance was inferior to yours.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Understand Human Wisdom



TAO wisdom is the profound human wisdom from ancient China more than 2,600 years ago. It is expressed in TAO TE CHING, one of the most translated works in world literature.

There are many translations and interpretations of Lao Tzu’s ancient classic “Tao Te Ching.”  Given that the Chinese language is often capable of multiple meanings, following the exact Chinese translation may make the flow of the language uneven and even difficult to understand. 

The book contains not only the complete 81 chapters of Lao Tzu’s immortal classic but also the author’s own interpretations of the essentials of TAO  wisdom (which is the wisdom of Lao Tzu) for easier intuition and assimilation.

To get your digital copy, click here