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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Correct Use of Tenses

To write well, you need to know how to use English tenses correctly. Tenses are difficult to many because in many languages tenses are not used to express "time" or the "relationship of sequence"; instead, adverbs, such as "yesterday", "tomorrow", "soon" etc. are used.

To learn how to use English tenses correctly, you must have a perception of the "time" element.

Let's take a look at present tense, present continuous tensepresent perfect tensepast tense, and past perfect tense with the following examples:

PAST<----------------------------------------------------->PRESENT

e.g. I am a U.S. citizen. (present tense)
                            
e.g. I haven been a U.S. citizen for many years. (present perfect tense—I was and still am)

e.g. I live in the United States. (present tense—a fact)   

e.g. I am living in the United States. (present continuous tense—sometimes I live in other places, but right now I am living in the United States)

e.g. I lived in the United States. (past tense—a fact in the past)

e.g. I had lived in the United States for many years, but now I no longer do. (past perfect tense—an action that took place for some time in the past)

Can you now tell the differences between the following sentences?

e.g. I am still a student in this community college.

e.g. I was a student in this community college last year.

e.g. I have been a student in this community college since 2016.

e.g. I had been a student in this community college between 2010 and 2013.

Hopefully, the above examples have demonstrated how you should use some of the English tenses correctly.

Read my book Effective Writing Made Simple. Click here for the digital, and here for the paperback edition.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, June 23, 2017

More Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Bushed: exhausted.

e.g. After a hard day at the office, I'm completely bushed.

Dead from the neck upwards: stupid.

e.g. Don’t follow his example; he’s dead from the neck upwards.

In for it: likely to have trouble.

e.g. If you don't listen to my advice, you're in for it.

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!

Boo-boo: an error.

e.g. This is just a boo-boo; don't take it too seriously.

That's a big one: a lie.

e.g. That was a big one. Do you expect me to believe it?

 Go: attempt.

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

Easy mark: a likely victim.

e.g. If you are so unsuspecting, you may become an easy mark for swindlers.

Bazillion: a great number of.

e.g. The national debt is now in bazillion dollars, and the Congress needs to do something about that.

No way: not at all.

e.g. “Are you going to give him a hand?” “No way; he’ll be on his own.”

Beat: broke, no money.

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

Chip on one’s shoulder: a grudge against.

e.g. She still has a chip on her shoulder: your infidelity some years ago. 

Ace someone out: win out over someone.

e.g. I plan to ace him out in the first round of the competition.

Ask me another: I don't know.

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

No two ways about it: no other alternative.

e.g. The man had to file for bankruptcy; no two ways about it

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, June 16, 2017

Slang and Colloquial Expressions

Dead from the neck upwards: stupid.

e.g. Don’t follow his example; he’s dead from the neck upwards.

In for it: likely to have trouble.

e.g. If you don't listen to my advice, you're in for it.

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!

Go: attempt.

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

Easy mark: a likely victim.

e.g. If you are so unsuspecting, you may become an easy mark for swindlers.

Bazillion: a great number of.

e.g. The national debt is now in bazillion dollars, and the Congress needs to do something about that.

No way: not at all.

e.g. “Are you going to give him a hand?” “No way; he’ll be on his own.”

Are you with me?: understand or agree with me.

e.g. I've been explaining this to you for an hour. Are you with me?


Beat: broke, no money.

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

Chip on one’s shoulder: a grudge against.

e.g. She still has a chip on her shoulder: your infidelity some years ago. 

Ace someone out: win out over someone.

e.g. I plan to ace him out in the first round of the competition.

Ask me another: I don't know.

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

No two ways about it: no other alternative.

e.g. The man had to file for bankruptcy; no two ways about it

Stephen Lau 
Copyright© by Stephen Lau



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Prepositional Words and Phrases

The use of prepositions is one of the difficult aspects of learning English. A preposition is a function word that appears before nouns and relates to some other constructions in the sentence.

A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and one or more prepositions that functions as a single unit of meaning. Phrasal verbs are commonly used in writing. As an ESL learner, learn some phrases.

MOVE

Move ahead
: advance beyond.

e.g. If you wish to move ahead in you career, you need a higher degree.

Move along
: continue to move.

e.g. Come on! Move along; there's nothing to see here

Move around
: walk around a bit here and there.

e.g. Can you sit still, instead of moving around?

Move aside
: step out of the way.

e.g. Please move aside so that the crowd can get through.

Move away
: withdraw from someone or something.

e.g. Let's move away from those smokers.

Move back: move back and away.

e.g. Please move back! We need more space here.

Move on something
: do something about something.

e.g. This is an issue we must move on.

e.g. You must move on this matter and give it your top priority.

Move up
: advance; go higher.

e.g. She is trying to move her son up the social ladder/

REMAIN

Remain ahead of 
:keep up with.

e.g. I don't think we can remain ahead of all the orders coming in.

Remain away: stay away from.

e.g.. I wonder how long he would remain away from drugs.

Remain in: stay within something.

e.g. Please remain in the house until I come back.

Remain on: stay on (a medication)

e.g. Doctor, how long will I remain on this medication?

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, June 12, 2017

English Slang and Colloquial 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.

Alive and kicking: in good health.
e.g. "How is your grandmother doing?" "Very much alive and kicking."

Easy on the eye: good looking.
e.g. I say, your girlfriend is easy on the eye.

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..

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.

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.

Ace: pass a test easily.
e.g. "Did you ace the test?" "You bet I did."

All wet: completely wrong.
e.g. If you think I'll lend you the money, you're all wet!

Not so dusty: quite good.
e.g. Well the performance was not so dusty; much better than I expected.

Bad shot: wrong guess.
e.g. “He came with his wife, didn’t he?” “Bad shot: he came all by himself.”

Whistle for: wish in vain.
e.g. The stock market has fallen sharply. You can whistle for your money invested.
  
Break a leg: good luck!
e.g. "I'll have my first piano competition tomorrow." "Break a leg!"


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Friday, June 9, 2017

My New Book for ESL Learners

Here is my new book publication on ESL:


Prepositions are words that indicate the relationships between various elements within a sentence. In formal English, prepositions are almost always followed by objects.

e.g. The policeman shot (verb) the man (object) with (preposition identifying the man being shot) a knife.
e.g. I put (verb) the pen (direct object) on (preposition indicating the position of the pen) the table (indirect object).
e.g. I put (verb) the pen (direct object) under (preposition indicating the position of the pen) the table (indirect object)

Prepositional phrases always consist of the object and the preposition. Prepositional phrases can act as adjectives or adverbs. When they are used as adjectives, they modify nouns and pronouns in the same way single-word adjectives do. When prepositional phrases are used as adverbs, they also act in the same way single-word adverbs and adverb clauses do, modifying adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs.

Prepositional words and phrases are difficult, especially for ESL learners, because different prepositions may impart different meanings to the prepositional words and phrases. Even the same preposition may have different meanings to the same verb.

Break in: enter without permission; interrupt; train; get used to something new.

e.g. A burglar attempted to break in last night but without success.
e.g. Don’t break in while someone is talking; it’s rude!
e.g. The manager has to break the new employees in so that they may know what to do.
e.g. You should break your new car in before you drive on the highway.

This 121-page book has hundreds of prepositional words and phrases with explanations and examples, just like the ones illustrated above, for you reference. Improve your English with your mastery of prepositional words and phrases. 

Click here to get the digital copy,  and here to get paperback copy.

Stephen Lau





Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Words Easily Confused by ESL Learner



Writing is made up of words. Effective writing requires having a good stock of vocabulary, as well as selecting the most suitable words and phrases to express the  intended ideas.

Remember, words are neither effective nor ineffective; they just impart different meanings to the sentences in which they are used. It is the writer's effective use of words and phrases that makes sentences effective or ineffective.

The English language is made up of nearly a million words and phrases. A writer, especially one whose English is not his or her first language, may face two major problems in writing: not knowing "enough" words; and not knowing how to choose the "right" words. 

Right / Rightly

Right: immediately; rightly: justly, correctly.

e.g.  Don't wait! Do it right now!

e.g. You will get your money right away.

e.g. I rightly canceled the trip: a storm was coming

e.g. We refused the offer, and rightly so because it was a bad deal.

Mediate / Meditate

Mediateact as a peacemaker; meditate: think deeply.

e.g. The Secretary of State is trying to mediate between the two warring nations.

e.g. He meditated revenge after he was insulted by his coworkers.

  
Stephen Lau