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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Choosing the Right Words

CURRANT / CURRENT

Currant means a kind of black berry; current means a movement of air or water; or of the present time.
e.g. We enjoy the dessert made with honey and currant.
e.g. The water may not be safe for swimming because there is a strong current below the water surface.
e.g. His secretary always keeps him updated with current affairs.

PRECEDE / PROCEED

Precede means come or go before in time or place; proceed means to go forward.

e.g. Soaking the beans overnight should precede the cooking.
e.g. We decided to proceed with the plan, even without the funding.

 TERMINABLE TERMINAL

Terminable: can be ended.
e.g. Your job is only temporary and terminable at any time.
Terminal: at the end.
e.g. The doctor told the patient that she had terminal cancer.

SECONDARY / SECONDLY

Secondary means next after the first in importance; secondly means in the next place.

e.g. Concentrate on this; that is only a secondary source.
e.g. Firstly, you have to take care of yourself. Secondly, take care of your family.

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. He laughed and made a pretense not to be offended by the insult.
e.g. I make no pretension to that award.
e.g. I never make any pretension that I am an expert in this field.

WAIVE / WAVE
Waive means to forgo or relinquish; wave means to move.
e.g. If you sign this document, you will waive all your rights.
e.g. He was waving his hands at you.

DEFER INFER

Defer: give way or yield to; infer: conclude.
e.g. He is a good kid: he always defers to his parents' wishes.
e.g. We can infer from your statement that you don't like this policy.

ACCOUNTABLE TO / ACCOUNTABLE FOR

Accountable to: responsible to someone; accountable for: responsible for something
e.g. The Manager has to be accountable to the Board; he has to be accountable for all his business decisions. 

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Learn More Slang

Killer: a very funny joke.
e.g. That last one was really a killer;  everybody laughed.

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.”

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?

Kick back: relax and enjoy.
e.g I really want to kick back and enjoy the music.

Smoke eater: a fire fighter.
e.g. Do you really want to be a smoke eater -- a dangerous occupation?

Hard put to it: in difficulty.
e.g. During the Great Depression people were hard put to it to make both ends meet.

Boil over: become angry.
e.g.  Get away from him: he's boiling over with rage.

All that jazz: all that sort of thing; etcetera.
e.g. He was telling everyone about his success in real estate investment and all that jazz. Well, we all heard that before.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Friday, January 5, 2018

Learn Some American Idioms

Get one's own back: to revenge oneself.
e.g. He wants to get his own back for the insult he has received.

Fall from grace: lose favor or popularity.
e.g. Armstrong has fallen from grace because of the doping.

Feel like: have a desire for something
e.g. I feel like eating a hamburger.

Dance to another tune: change to a different attitude or behavior
e.g. If your parents were here, you would dance to another tune.

As easy as pie: very easy
e.g. Cooking a turkey is as easy as pie.

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.

Flip-flop: change sides in an issue
e.g. Politicians who flip-flop too much are unpopular with voters.

Quick on the uptake: quick to understand; smart
e.g. He is quick on the uptake; you don’t need to give him unnecessary details.

All thumbs: awkward and clumsy with one’s fingers
e.g. She will not learn to play the piano because she knows her fingers are all thumbs.

Abide by: accept and follow
e.g. If you wish to become a citizen of the United States, you must abide by U.S. immigration laws.


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Words Frequently Confused

Common / Commonplace

Common: shared or used by many; commonplace: ordinary, not unusual.
e.g. English is a common language used in Europe.
e.g. Nowadays, carrying a gun is commonplace.

Overdo / Overdue

Overdo means do too much; overdue means past the deadline date.
e.g. This is good enough; don't overdo it!
e.g. The payment is now overdue

Dutiable Dutiful

Dutiable: subject to imported tax; dutiful: showing respect and obedience.
e.g. Tobacco is often dutiable in most countries.
e.g. He is my dutiful son.

Perspective / Prospective

Perspective is an opinion or point of view; prospective means related to the future.
e.g. From the perspective of a woman, how do you look at this case of domestic violence?
e.g. Any person who walks into this shop is a prospective customer.

Practical / PRACTICABLE
Practical means related to practice; practicable means realistic or can be done.

e.g. You must learn all the practical details of the operation of the machine.
e.g. Your plan is not practicable without the funding.

Precede / Proceed

Precede means come or go before in time or place; ; proceed means to go forward.
e.g. Soaking the beans overnight should precede the cooking.
e.g. We decided to proceed with the plan, even without the funding.

Prepossessing / Preposterous

Prepossessing means attractive or impressive; preposterous means absurd or contrary to reason.
e.g. She had put on a prepossessing dress to impress the audience.
e.g. You look preposterous in that ridiculous outfit!

In regard to / As regards

Both mean with reference to.

e.g. As regards your performance, I think you did a good job (no “to”).
e.g. She is very generous in regard to charity donation.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Prepositional Words and Phrases

LABOR

Labor for: work on behalf of someone or something.

e.g. I labored for you all day long, and you didn’t even thank me.

Labor over: work hard on.

e.g. The lawyer labored over my case for months.

e.g. The doctor labored over his patient for hours.


ASK

Ask about: find out more about.

e.g. I want to ask about my application for that position.

Ask after: ask about the health and wellbeing of someone.

e.g. My in-laws asked after you.

Ask around: request information from a number of people.

e.g. I plan to ask around to see what people think about the new mayor.

Ask back: invite someone to come again.

e.g. Because of your rudeness, they will never ask you back.

Ask for: request for someone or something.

e.g. The policeman is asking for you.

Ask of: ask of something from someone.

e.g. I want to ask a favor of you.

Ask out: invite someone to go out.
e.g. I asked her out to dinner, but she refused.

Ask over: invite someone to visit.

e.g. I asked my neighbor over to fix my computer.

Therefore, learn more prepositional phrases with different meanings when used with different prepositions.

RUN

Run down: hit with a vehicle

e.g. The old man was run down by the bus.

Run down: stop functioning

e.g. My lawn mower is running down; I need to get a new one.

Run into: meet by accident

e.g. Yesterday, I ran into an old friend that I had not seen for decades.

Run out of: not have any more of something

e.g. Hurry! We're running out of time!

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

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

Copyright© by Stephen Lau