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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Learning Vocabulary

Learning vocabulary may look daunting to you (you may not know the word daunting, but most probably you can still guess that it means something like "difficult"; that is how you learn a new work by relating it to the context in a sentence), but you have to learn it cumulatively, that is, learning a few words every day. 

Corporal / Corporeal

Corporal means related to the body; corporeal means bodily and not spiritual.

e.g. Corporal punishment is no longer acceptable in schools.
e.g. We should be more concerned with our spiritual rather than our corporeal welfare.

Forbear / Forebear

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

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

Adverse / Averse

Adverse means unfavorable; averse means opposed to.

e.g. We managed to survive in these adverse economic conditions.
e.g. He was averse to giving financial aids to the poor.

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.

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.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, November 23, 2018

Singular or Plural Verbs?

Singular or Plural

The following sentences are correct, and they illustrate the uses of singular or plural verbs in some common expressions:

e.g. Fifty dollars is a lot of money to me (amount).

e.g. Two weeks of vacation is not enough (time).

e.g. One of the tables was badly damaged in the storm.

e.g. All coming and going after midnight is not allowed (a single idea)e.g. A number of books were checked out (many).

e.g. The number of students present was great (the figure).

e.g. The greater part of the land was cultivated.

e.g. The greater part of the oranges were bad.

e.g. More than one student was involved.

e.g. Screaming and shouting was heard even inside the house. (a single idea)

Majority is often confusing: it refers to number, not to the amount or quantity.

e.g. The majority of the people were women. (correct)

e.g. The majority of the eggs were bad. (correct)

e.g. The majority of the butter was bad. (incorrect)

e.g. Most of the butter was bad. (correct)

Compare the following:

e.g. The majority of children like sweets. (some do not like)

e.g. Most children like sweets. (children in general like sweets)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, November 19, 2018

Why Learning American Idioms

Learning American idioms is as important as learning the vocabulary, the sentence structure, and the grammar usage of American English. If you plan to stay in the United States, learning American idioms is a must.

Idioms are words and phrases in a language that have come into existence for a variety of reasons, some obvious enough, some inexplicable, but most of them appropriately and delightfully characteristic of the race that created them. American idioms are no exception; they reflect American culture at every social level. They are used in everyday life, in speaking and in writing, in movies and on television, and by people from all walks of life. 

The following are some samples of common American idioms:

Dog in the manger: a very selfish person
e.g. Don’t be a dog in the manger! You no longer need this; why don’t you give it to us?

Through thick and thin: through good times as well as bad times
e.g. Don’t worry! I’ll stick by you through thick and thin.

Inch along: move very slowly
e.g. Business was inching along because of the economy.

You bet: yes, of course
e.g. “Are you hungry?” “You bet!”

Vested interest: a personal stake
e.g. He showed a vested interest in his uncle’s business.

Have a good mind to: tend to
e.g. I have a good mind to tell you the truth.

Act one’s age: behave maturely
e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.

Under one’s own steam: by one’s own effort 
e.g. He cannot succeed under his own steam; he needs the support of his family.

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.

Hold one’s end up: do one’s part; reliable
e.g. I know I can count on you; you always hold your end up.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, November 12, 2018

Correct Use of Prepositions


Blow in: visit unexpectedly

e.g. What a surprise! What blows you in ?

Blow over: end without causing harm

e.g. The Mayor expected the riot would blow over in a day or two.

Blow up: become very angry

e.g. As soon as he heard the bad news, he blew up and screamed at every one.

Touch up: repair.

e.g. Can you touch up the scratches on the car?

e.g. This chair needs some touch-up.

Make up: invent; apply cosmetics; become reconciled.

e.g. He had to make up an excuse explaining why he was so late.

e.g. She made up beautifully before she put on the fancy dress.

e.g. After the heated argument, the man and his wife made up.

Run against: compete

e.g. I am going to run against him in the coming mayor election.

Die away: disappear.

e.g. The noise died away and it was silent.

Hand over: yield control of.

e.g. The manager has handed over the human resources section to the assistant manager.

Call off: cancel

e.g. Due to the bad weather, the meeting was called off.

Check out: leave; pay bills.

e.g. We are going to check out the hotel at noon.

Check up on: investigate.

e.g. The account will check up on the sum of money unaccounted for

Walk over: go to where someone is.

e.g.  I have something to give to you. Can you walk over?

Back down: retreat from a position in an argument.

e.g. Knowing that he did not have a valid point, he backed down.

e.g. We cannot back out of the contract; we are legally obligated to do what we are supposed to do.

Back up: support

e.g. Are you going to back me up if I decide to go ahead with the project?

Gain in: advance in something.

e.g. As you age, you may gain in wisdom.

Gain on: begin to catch up with.

e.g. We were able to gain in on the car in front of us.

Gain dominion over: achieve authority or control over.
e.g. We were able to gain dominion over our enemies.

Dally over something: waste time doing something.

e.g. Don't dally over your food. Just eat it!

Dally with: flirt with someone.

e.g. Don't dally with that girl; she has no interest in you.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, November 2, 2018

My New Book on the Miracle of Living

This newly published book is about the miracle of living.

“Anything” may be “everything” to you, but not to others, and vice-versa. That may explain the some of the difficulties in human relationships. Life is difficult because it is all about you, and not about others. Let go of “anything is everything” to you if you focus more on others as well.

“Everything is nothing” is a universal truth: nothing lasts, no matter how we wish they were permanent. Many of us are reluctant to accept this universal truth of the impermanence of all things in this world.

“Nothing is everything” is enlightenment of the human mind, which is profound understanding of the ultimate truths of self, of others, and of the world around.

This 100-page book explains with many real-life examples to illustrate the perceptions of “anything is everything”, “everything is nothing”, and “nothing is everything”—based on the ancient Chinese wisdom and the Biblical wisdom.

Get the wisdom to live your life as if everything is a miracle.

Click here to get your paperback copy.

Click here to get your digital copy.

Here is the outline of the book:



The Meanings and the Interpretations
A Frog in a Well
Human Wisdom and Spiritual Wisdom
Oneness with All Life
Love and Forgiveness
Gratitude and Generosity
Sympathy and Empathy
Compassion and Loving Kindness


Understanding Is Everything
The Mind and the Ego
Attachments and Illusions
Control and Power
Detachment and Letting Go
Impermanence and Emptiness


The Paradox
The Way
The Miracle
The Enlightenment