Effective Choice of Words

Good writing means trying to avoid the overuse of clichés (overused catch phrases and figures of speech)

e.g. busy NOT busy as a bee

e.g. confront the truth NOT face the music

e.g. everyone NOT each and every one

e.g. finally NOT last but not the least

e.g. firstly NOT first and foremost

e.g. gentle NOT gentle as a lamb

e.g. infrequent or seldom NOT few and far between

e.g. obviously NOT it goes without saying

e.g. seldom NOT once in a blue moon

Avoid weakling modifiers. Most of the following weakling modifiers can be removed without changing the meaning of a sentence:

e.g. actually

e.g. both

e.g. certainly

e.g. comparatively

e.g. definitely

e.g. herselfhimselfitselfthemselves

e.g. needless to say

e.g. particularly

e.g. per se

e.g. really

e.g. relatively

e.g. very

To use these weakling modifiers occasionally is permissible, but to use them frequently makes your writing ineffective.

Figures of speech add life and vividness to writing. Figures of speech compare one thing abstract with another thing, which is usually literal or concrete.

Metaphors

Metaphors are implied comparisons.

e.g. After listening to the speech of the senator, I was a volcano within although I was still calm without.

e.g. He is a hog at mealtime.

Similes

Similes are direct comparisons to bring out the imagination of the readers.

e.g. After listening to the speech of the senator, I was like a volcano about to erupt although I was still calm on the outside.

e.g. He eats like a hog.

Similes always use words as or like.

Stephen Lau

Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

Build Vocabulary 2

Build Vocabulary 2

outlay (noun): an amount of money

e.g. The Government is planning to have an enormous outlay on cancer research.

the rising generation (noun): the younger people

e.g. These are the innovative ideas of the rising generation.

innovative: creative; state-of-the-art

e.g. This is an innovative approach to solving the problem.

outdoor (an adjective)  / (an adverb): outside the house

e.g. Football is an outdoor sport.

e.g. We can play outdoors when the rain stops.

out and out (adverb): completely; thoroughly

e.g. Don’t go out with him: he is a criminal out and out.

out-and-away (adverb): by far

e.g. She is out-and-away the best pianist in town.

hunt (noun): search

e.g. I am now on a hunt for jobs.

e.g. The police are now on a hunt for the escaped prisoner.

the ins and outs (noun): details

e.g. Please give me all the ins and outs of the story.

hunch (noun): strong belief.

e.g. I have a hunch that he will not show up at the party tonight.

take the road (verb): go on a journey

e.g. We are going to take the road tomorrow.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Confusing Words 2

In the English language, there are many words that look similar and can be confusing, especially to ESL learners.

 Ingenious / Ingenuous

 Ingenious is clever; ingenuous is natural, free from deceit.

e.g. I must say that was an ingenious way to steal the money.

e.g. His response was sincere and ingenuous.

Bulk / Hulk

 Bulk: in large quantities; the greater part of.

e.g. His business was selling brown rice in bulk.

e.g. The billionaire gave the bulk of his estate to charity.

Hulk: a big, clumsy person.

e.g. If you do nothing to your obesity, you will soon become a hulk.

 Genteel / Gentle

Genteel: well-bred, polite; imitating the lifestyle of the rich.

e.g. Your friend is genteel. Is he very rich?

e.g. All along he has been living in genteel poverty. He is not practical.

Gentle: being nice and showing care

e.g. Be gentle with the baby.

Bulk / Hulk

Bulk: in large quantities; the greater part of..

e.g. His business was selling wheat in bulk.

e.g. The billionaire gave the bulk of his estate to charity.

Hulk: a big, clumsy person.

e.g. If you do nothing to your obesity, you will soon become a hulk.

Hail / Hale

Hail means to greet or salute; hale means healthy and strong.

e.g. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”

e.g. A man is hale when his complexion is rosy.

e.g. This dress is too loose for you (not tight enough).

Some time / Sometime / Sometimes

Some time means a period of time.

Sometime, as an adverb, means approximately; as an adjective, means former or occasional.

Sometimes, as an adverb, means now and then.

e.g. We have been for the train for some time.

e.g. Why don’t you visit me sometime?

e.g. She was my sometime girlfriend.

e.g. Sometimes I like her, and sometimes I don’t — that’s our relationship.

Lose Loose

Lose means being unable to find; loose means to set free or to become less tight.

e.g. Here is your ticket to the game; don’t lose it.

e.g. Don’t lose your temper (become angry).

e.g. You are too loose with your children (you have little or no control over them).

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

 

 

 

Confusing Words

In the English language, there are many words that look similar and can be confusing, especially to ESL learners.

MELLOW / MELODIOUS

Mellow: mature; soft and pure; rich and full.

e.g. As he continues to age, he become more mellow and compassionate.

Melodious: tuneful; pleasant to the ear.

e.g. He voice is melodious; he should take up singin

SEDATIVE / SEDENTARY

Sedative: calming or soothing.

e.g. The doctor gave her some sedative medicine to put her to sleep.

Sedentary: accustomed to sitting; physically inactive.

e.g His sedentary work — sitting in front of the computer — took a toll on his health.

e.g. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle even if you are approaching 60..

GENTEEL / GENTLE

Genteel: well-bred, polite; imitating the lifestyle of the rich.

e.g. Your friend is genteel. Is he very rich?

e.g. All along he has been living in genteel poverty. He is not practical.

Gentle: kind, friendly, mild.

e.g. Be gentle to my puppy.

DISPOSABLE / INDISPOSED

Disposable: can’t be removed or got rid of.

e.g. This machine is disposable; we can do without it

Indisposed: not feeling well; unwilling to

e.g. You look indisposed. Is there something wrong with you?

e.g. Many people are indisposed to working on weekends.

TERMINABLE / TERMINAL

Terminable: can be ended.

e.g. Your employment is only temporary and terminable at any time.

Terminal: at the end.

e.g. The doctor told him that he had terminal cancer.

DECORATIVE / DECOROUS

Decorative: having an artistic or showy effect.

e.g. The ballroom with all the ribbons and flowers are very decorative.

Decorous: showing good taste.

e.g. The Princess looks decorous in that simple but beautiful dress.

 

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

 

Build Vocabulary

Build Vocabulary

You need words to communicate through listening, speaking, reading, and writing — in other words, vocabulary. Therefore, you need to build your vocabulary for better and more effective communication.

Whatever and whenever you read, notice the words and phrases that you are not familiar with, and ask yourself one simple question: Do I understand the content without knowing their meanings? If your answer is yes, then continue your reading.

You may also want to ask yourself two more questions: Have I come across these words and phrases before? Do I want to learn them? If you say yes to them, well, maybe you should make an effort to learn and remember them, including their meanings, spellings, and ways of pronunciation. That is how you build your vocabulary.

Make an effort to learn at least several words and phrases everyday. What if I don’t remember them after a week or so? Don’t worry! They will come back to you sooner or later. Just keep on building your vocabulary daily.

But how should I learn, and where do I get the materials to build my vocabulary. Learn your ESL here!

“Read the following from my book The Happiness Wisdom:

“That money can buy happiness is a myth rather than a reality. But if you have experienced extreme poverty all your life, you might think otherwise. That said, if one has met the basic everyday needs, then the amount of money one possesses may no longer play a pivotal role in the happiness or unhappiness of that individual. The truth of the matter is that money can make you happy or unhappy, and that is the paradox of money.”

Can you fully comprehend the above, even without knowing the some or all of the highlighted words and phrases?

MYTH: an untrue idea or concept. MYTHICAL: an adjective.

 THINK OTHERWISE: disagree or think differently.

 THAT SAID or HAVING SAID THAT: a colloquial expression, meaning “although” or “though” (remember, “although” and “though” are never followed by “but”, e.g. “Although I like this dress very much, I won’t buy it.”

PIVOTAL: critical or important.

PARADOX: a statement seemingly contradictory or untrue at first. PARADOXICAL: adjective.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau