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

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Confusing Words

Audible and Auditory

Audible: can be heard
e.g. The music from the concert hall was audible even from here.

Auditory: related to hearing or the ear
e.g. This factory manufactures auditory equipment.

Expandable and Expendable

Expandable: able to grow and develop
e.g. This business has great potential and is expandable.

Expendable: unnecessary
e.g. This is extra and is expendable.

Amused and Bemused

Amused: be delighted or entertained
e.g. We were all amused by his wonderful performance.

Bemused; bewildered or confused

e.g. The reporters were totally bemused by that contradictory information from the White House.

Farther and Further

Farther: at a greater physical distance
e.g. This place is farther away from your parents’ home.

Further: at a greater figurative distance
e.g. His explanation is further from the truth.

A lot and Allot

A lot: a large number of
e.g. A lot of people turned up at the debate.

Allot; assign something to
e.g. You should allot some of the work to the new employee.

Suppose and Supposed to

Suppose: theorize
e.g. I supposed he would turn up, but he did not.

Supposed to: obligated to do something
e.g. The policeman was supposed to arrest the criminal.

Formally and Formerly

Formally: officially
e.g. The manager formally announced your promotion.

Formerly: previously
e.g. He was formerly the President of this company.

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Friday, April 20, 2018

Learn Some Phrasal Verbs

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 phrasal verbs, and use them appropriately in your writing.
Run across: meet or encounter
e.g. If you live long enough, you will run across many health issues.
Run against: compete against
e.g. In the next debate, who will you be running against?
Run away: escape
e.g. My dog ran away, and we are still looking for it.
Run down: hit by a car
e.g. A homeless person was run down by the train.
Run for: campaign for
e.g Who do you think is the most likely Republican candidate running for President?
Run into: meet by accident
e.g. I didn't expect to run into your parents yesterday when I was shopping at the mall..
Run off: depart running; cause to depart; drive away; make copies
e.g. The man ran off as soon as he saw the police car coming.
e.g. They didn't like us, so they ran us off.
e.g. Please run off a few more copies of this document,
Run out of: be short of
e.g. Be frugal; we're running out of money.

Get across: cause to be understood

e.g. It took the manager some time before he could get across the company's new policies to his employees.

Get ahead: advance

e.g. If you wish to get ahead in your career, you must have a higher degree.

Get ahead of: surpass; beat

e.g. Beware of your assistant; he is an ambitions man who may want to get ahead of you.

Get along / get along with: have a good relationship

e.g. The two of you seem to get along quite well.

e.g. Do you think you can get along with your in-laws?

Get around: avoid; circulate

e. g. Is there a way to get around this problem?

e.g. The gossip has been getting around that you will soon be married.

Get away: escape

e.g. The burglar got away before the police arrived.

Get away with: do something wrong without being punished

e.g. Do you think you can get away with murder (usually used figuratively)?

Get by: manage somehow

e.g. I can get by with one part-time job.

Get down to: be serious about
e.g. Let's get down to work!
Get in: enter
e.g. Please get in the car; we are leaving right now.
Get on: put on
e.g It's raining; get on your raincoat.
Get on with: proceed with an activity
e.g. Get on with your work; you have to finish it before you leave.
Get over: recover from
e.g. I got the flu last week, but now I'm getting over it.
Get through: finish
e.g. We were having some financial problems, but now we're getting through.
Get up: rise
e.g. Get up! You'll be late for work!
Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 16, 2018

Increase and Improve Your Vocabulary

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. 

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  ded ideas.

There are many English words and phrases that are frequently confused and misused by ESL learners. This book provides hundreds of those words and phrases with examples to show how they should be used correctly, such as: advance and advancement; acceptance and acceptation; accountable to and accountable for; acquirement and acquisition, etc. 

Stephen Lau


Thursday, April 5, 2018

American Idioms

Learn some common everyday American expressions.

Nothing doing!: I'll not permit it; no way!
e.g. "Can I bring my cat along?" "Nothing doing!"

What else is new?: it is not new.
e.g. "Last week he lost his job." "What else is new?" (i.e. he has been out of employment for a long time)

I am like you: we share the same opinion.
e.g. "I don't like smoking." "I am like you: cheese makes me feel sick."

Sorry I asked: I wish I had not asked.
e.g. "I didn't pass my test." "Sorry I asked."

Not in my books: not according to my views.
e.g. "Is this good enough?" "Not in my books."

My lips are sealed: I can't tell you.
e.g. "Please don't tell anyone what I just told you." "My lips are sealed."

Snap it up: be quick.
e.g. "Snap it up! We need to finish it before noon."

He spoke too soon: spoke without getting all the facts.
e.g. "He was wrong about that." "Well, maybe he spoke too soon."

Try as I may: I regret or fail to do something.
e.g. "Can you stop the baby from crying?" "Try as I may, I can't calm him down."

Speak out of turn: speak at the wrong time.
e.g. "Beware of what you're going to say at the meeting. Don't speak out of turn by talking about your own problems."

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Right Choice of Words

Effective writing is about words -- the right choice of words.

Indoor and Indoors

Indoor is an adjective, while indoors is an adverb.

e.g. We went indoors because a storm was coming.

e.g. We love to watch all indoor games.

Distinct and Distinctive

Distinct means “clear” or “obvious”; distinctive means “having a characteristic of something.”

e.g. The water had a distinct smell of petroleum.

e.g. Petroleum has a distinctive smell.

Compare with and Compare to

e.g. I want to compare this dress with that one to see which one is more suitable for me. (finding differences)

e.g. I don’t want to compare my dress to hers. (making a comparison, especially finding similarities)

Continual and Continuous

e.g. All these years, our support has been continual. (repeated often)

e.g. The sound of the alarm was continuous for more than ten minutes. (with no interruption)

Council and Counsel

e.g. Seek counsel (advice) from an expert before you go to the town council (administrative body).

Disinterested and Uninterested

e.g. A judge has to be disinterested. (impartial; fair)

e.g. I was uninterested in the game. (showing no enthusiasm)

Avenge and Revenge

e.g. He avenged her death by bringing the killer to justice. (seeking justice)

e.g. He revenged the death of his son by killing the murderer’s son. (less concerned with justice, more concerned with getting even)

     Any one and Anyone

e.g. Any one of you can come. (more specific)

e.g. Anyone can come. (generally not specifically)

Contemptible and Contemptuous

e.g. To take advantage of the poor is a contemptible act. (deserving to be looked down upon)

e.g. He is contemptuous of those who disagree with him. (showing contempt; looking down upon)

Historic and Historical

e.g. That was a historic event. (having a long history)

e.g. This is a historical novel. (about history)

 Implicit and Explicit

e.g. The security threat was implicit in this report. (hinted; suggested)

e.g. We were given very explicit instructions on how to deal with the problem. (clearly stated; detailed)

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau