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

Monday, October 29, 2018

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


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Learn Some Slang Expressions

Learn Some Slang Expressions

Have not the faintest: have no idea at all.
e.g. I had not the faintest what he was talking about.

Darned sight more: a lot more.
e.g. "Do you think he should put more effort on this?" "A darned sight more!"

Have it in for someone: bear someone a grudge; be determined to punish someone.
e.g. All these years he has it in for you: you married his sweetheart.

Put one's shirt on: wager everything.
e.g. We have to put our shirt on this project; we've no other option.

Pooped: exhausted.
e.g. I was pooped after working for nine hours in the yard.

Hard put to it: in a very difficult situation.
e.g. I understand that when you are out of employment for so long, you are really very hard put to it.

Have a load on: be very drunk.
e.g. Your husband seemed to have a load on when he came home from work yesterday.

Alive and kicking: in good health.
"How is she doing?" "Very much alive and kicking."

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.

All at sea: confused.
e.g. "What do you think of the proposal?" "I'm all at sea; I'm completely clueless."

Jump on: blame or criticize strongly.
e.g. You jumped on him every time he opened his mouth.

Gift of the gab: ability to give effective speeches.
e.g. The new Mayor has the gift of the gab: people like listening to him.

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Learn Some American Idioms


All at sea: confused

e.g. The lawyer was all at sea when he read the two conflicting reports of the incident.

Kettle of fish: a mess, an unpleasant incident

e.g. That was a pretty kettle of fish: your in-laws and your parents arguing at the party. 

Meet someone halfway: compromise

e.g. He settled the agreement with her by meeting her halfway.

First and last: above all; under all circumstances

e.g. She was an accomplished pianist first and last.

Poop out: tire out

e.g. The marathon race pooped me out; I could hardly walk.

Make as if: pretend

e.g. You made as if you enjoyed the film, but you really didn’t.

Late in life: in old age

e.g. It was only late in life that he became a famous writer.

Bark up the wrong tree: make the wrong choice; accuse the wrong person.

e.g. If you think I took your money, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Poke one’s nose into something: interfere with

e.g. I don’t like the way you poke your nose into my affairs.

Come what may: no matter what

e.g. Don’t worry! Come what may, I’ll be on your side.

Handwriting on the wall: a warning

e.g. If the Governor had seen the handwriting on the wall, he would not have adopted those unpopular proposals.

Go through the roof: very angry

e.g. When he found out that you took his money, he went through the roof.

Fork out: pay

e.g. I like this computer, but I don’t want to fork out a lot of money.

Above all: most importantly

e.g. Above all, you must have a valid visa if you wish to continue to stay in the United States.

A little bird told me
: somehow I knew

e.g. “How did you know what I did?” “Well, a little bird told me.”

Stephen Lau

Monday, October 8, 2018

Confusing Words


Refrain / sustain

Refrain means to hold back; sustain means to hold up.

e.g. You have to refrain from making any noise.
e.g. Can the government sustain the booming economy for long?

Forbear / Forebear

Forbear means to tolerate, refrain from; forebear means an ancestor

e.g. You have to forbear from asking too many questions at the meeting.
e.g.  He always takes pride in that Charles Dickens was his forebear.

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.

Reign / Rein

Reign means to rule over; rein means to control (e.g. an animal)

e.g. The emperor reigned over the country for decades.
e.g. You must rein in your hot temper.
e.g. Beware of giving free rein to your reason. (i.e. not release from any restraint).

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.

Spoiled / Spoilt

Spoiled (the past tense or past participle of “spoil”) means lay waste, rob; spoilt means mar or ruin.

e.g. Your car accident spoiled my vacation.
e.g. You are a spoilt child!

Recourse / Resort

Recourse means turning to others or something for help; resort means to turn to for help (both noun and verb)

e.g. His only recourse was the police.
e.g. The police should not resort to violence to stop the peaceful demonstration.
e.g. The army decided using violence as the last resort.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Everyday American Idioms


Pour money down the drain: waste money
e.g. It’s better to declare bankruptcy, rather than pouring money down the drain; nothing can revive the business.

Trump up: make up something untrue

e.g. The witness trumped up an excuse why he lied previously.

After all: in spite of everything

e.g. She didn’t get a good score; after all, it was her first attempt

Take one’s medicine: accept misfortune or punishment that one deserves
e.g. I messed it up; it was all my fault. I’ll take my medicine.

Late in life: in old age

e.g. It was only late in life that he became a famous writer.

Poke one’s nose into something: interfere with

e.g. I don’t like the way you poke your nose into my affairs.

Run in the family: a characteristic in all members of a family

e.g. Longevity runs in the family: they all live to a ripe old age.

Above all: most importantly

e.g. Above all, you must have a valid visa if you wish to continue to stay in the United States.

Have it coming: deserve what one gets
e.g. Failure was unavoidable. What you did had it coming.

A little bird told me: somehow I knew

e.g. “How did you know what I did?” “Well, a little bird told me.”

Tie up: engage or occupy in doing something

e.g. He was tied up at the meeting, and could not come to the phone.

Push someone to the wall: force someone into a difficult or defensive position
e.g. Don’t push him to the wall! He might even kill you!

All at sea: confused

e.g. The lawyer was all at sea when he read the two conflicting reports of the incident.

Presence of mind: clarity of thinking
e.g. Without presence of mind, it is impossible to handle one crisis after another.

As flat as a pancake: very flat

e.g. You left front wheel tires is as flat as a pancake.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, October 1, 2018

The 8 Parts of Speech of English


First and foremost, you must know the 8 parts of speech of the English language.

8 PARTS OF SPEECH

There are eight parts of speech in the English language: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections

(1) Nouns are names of things (book, chair, pen), people (boy, David, policeman)

(2) Pronouns stand for nouns: I (me); we (us); he (him); she (her); it (it); they (them); who (whom). The words in brackets are object pronouns.

e.g. I like him.
e.g. We like it.
e.g. He likes her.
e.g. She likes him.
e.g. It likes them.
e.g. They like it.
e.g. Who likes it?
e.g. Whom do you like?

(3) Verbs are words that show being:

e.g. I am a student.
e.g. You are happy.
e.g. He is poor.
e.g. We are doctors.
e.g. They are nurses.

Verbs are also words that describe an action:

e.g. I love you.
e.g. You go away!
e.g. She cries a lot.
e.g. We sleep at night.
e.g. They work in the office.

Some verbs are transitive: they need an object; some verbs are intransitive: they do not need an object; some verbs are both transitive and intransitive.

e.g. Please bring a chair. (transitive)
e.g. The sun rises. (intransitive)
e.g. He sings a song. (transitive)
e.g. He sings every morning. (intransitive)

(4) Adjectives describe nouns: e.g. a heavy chair; e.g. a pretty dress; e.g. You are happy.

(5) Adverbs describe verbs or adjectives: e.g. He eats slowly. e.g. You look very pretty.

(6) Prepositions are words that show the relationship between words.

e.g. I depend on you.
e.g. Give this to him.
e.g. We live in the United States.
e.g. They go with you.

(7) Conjunctions are words that are used to join sentences: and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet.

e.g. Get up and go to bed.
e.g. You like him, but he does not like you.
e.g. Put it here, or put it there.
e.g. I do not eat this, nor do I drink that.
e.g. You can stay, for it is raining.
e.g. I am tired, so I lie down.
e.g. You are tired, yet you do not want to go to bed.

(8) Interjections are words used to express different levels of emotions, such as surprise: e.g. Wow! My goodness!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau