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

 

 

 

Learn American Idioms 2

Learn American Idioms 2 

 More than meets the eye: there is a hidden meaning

e.g. What the Mayor mentioned in the speech implied more than meets the eye.

Turn over a new leaf: begin again

e.g. After the divorce, he decided to turn over a new leaf.

 Pay the piper: receive the punishment due

e.g. You just can’t keep on spending without paying the piper.

 Turn the tide: reverse the situation

e.g. After years of deficit, the company finally turned the tide, and made some profit.

 In fine feather: in good condition; in good health

e.g. With a good night sleep, I am in fine feather today.

After all: in spite of everything

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

Name of the game: the main goal

e.g. The name of the game is winning; we must win this election no matter what.

Face the music: confront danger; accept a bad situation

e.g. There are many circumstances in life in which you have to face the music.

 Stuff and nonsense: total nonsense

e.g. Come on! Don’t give me that stuff and nonsense! I don’t want to hear it anymore!

 Late in life: in old age

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

Act one’s age: behave maturely

e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.

All of it: the best

e.g. From the way he presented him at the debate, he was all of it.

 Lead someone astray: cause someone to do something wrong or illegal

e.g. If you are always in the company of lawbreakers, you  may be easily be led astray.

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.

 Pass the hat: collect money for

e.g. He is always passing the hat for something.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

 

 

 

Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase is a combination of a verb with a preposition. Such a combination may give different meanings to the same verb with different prepositions.

GROUND

Ground in: instruct.

e.g. We should ground our children in love and values as they grow up.

Ground on: form a foundation for.

e.g. His intelligence was grounded on reading books on wisdom.

 NOISE

Noise about: gossip.

e.g. Please don’t noise about my being fired by my boss.

HOLD

Hold at bay: keep someone or something at a safe distance.

e.g. The bombing might be able to hold the enemies at bay, at least for a while.

e.g. The man could no longer hold his anger at bay, and he took out his gun and pointed at the policeman.

Hold back on: withhold something.

e.g. Hold back on this. We might need it in the days to come.

Hold by: stick to a promise.

e.g. I hope you will hold by this agreement.

Hold good for: remain open, such as an offer to someone or something.

e.g. Does it still hold good for everyone here, including members of the family?

Hold no brief for: not to tolerate someone or something.

e.g. We should hold no brief for social injustice.

Hold off: delay or postpone doing something.

e.g. Can you hold off buying this new car? We can’t afford it.

Hold out: survive.

e.g. I don’t think we can hold out much longer with this kind of income.

Hold a candle to: be equal to someone or something.

e.g. You don’t hold a candle to your brother when it comes to playing the guitar.

Hold one’s head up: be confident.

e.g.  Hold your head up when it comes to public speaking.

Hold still for: put up with something.

e.g. It is not easy to hold still for that kind of rude remark.

Hold up on: delay or postpone further action.

e.g. Hold up on the appointment; we may have a better candidate.

Hold with: agree or tolerate something.

e.g. I don’t think I can hold with your preposition.

APPEAL

 Appeal against: ask a court to cancel something.

e.g. The lawyer appealed against the court’s decision.

 Appeal for: demand as a right.

e.g. I think we should appeal for justice.

e.g. They are appealing for our help.

 Appeal to: attract or please someone.

e.g. The proposal appealed to many of us.

e.g. Her personality appeals to everybody around her.

e.g. Does this food appeal to your taste?

INCLUDE

Include among: choose or classify.

e.g. He included himself among the top writers of science fiction.

Include in: invite.

e.g. I think we’ll include him in the party.

Stephen Lau        

Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

 

Learn Some Slang

Learn Some Slang and Colloquial Expressions

 Better than a slap in the eye: okay, acceptable.

e.g. Not all the goals were accomplished. Well, at least the project was completed on time; it’s better than a slap in the eye.

 Poison: drink..

e.g. “What’s your poison?” “I’ll have a gin tonic.”

 Butter up: flatter.

e.g. Now that you have been promoted, everybody seems to butter up you.

 French leave: leave without permission.

e.g. His boss found out that he took French leave yesterday afternoon to see his mother in the hospital.

 Full bang: full speed.

e.g. You have to go on full bang if you don’t want to miss your flight.

 By a long chalk: by a great amount.

e.g. He lost his reelection by a long chalk.

Choosy: difficult to please.

e.g. Nobody likes to deal with you: you’re a choosy customer.

Do one’s bit: do one’s share of responsibility.

e.g. I’ve done my bit; I hope it’s going to work.

Come clean: confess everything.

e.g. Under the police interrogation, the man finally came clean.

 Darned sight more: a lot more.

e.g. “Do you think he should put more effort on this?” “A darned sight more!”

 Dead head: a stupid person.

e.g. Your friend seems like a dead head to me from the way he behaves.

 Deliver the goods: do what is expected or required.

e.g. The new employee seems to deliver the goods — very hard working and conscientious.

 Creature comforts: physical comforts.

e.g. We all need a TV; it’s just one of those creature comforts.

 Do the trick: achieve the objective.

e.g. If you turn the handle in the opposite it may do the trick and open the lid.

 Drive up the wall: irritate intensely.

e.g. Don’t drive me up the wall every time I see you.

 Drop in on: visit casually.

e.g. Do drop in on us; you are always welcome.

 Bowl over: overwhelm.

e.g. I was bowled over by all the information received at the seminar.

Pooped: exhausted.

e.g. What’s the matter?  Everybody looks pooped today. We haven’t even started the work!

 Stephen Lau

Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Common Sentence Errors

Double Negatives

e.g. I didn’t see nobody. (incorrect)

I didn’t see anybody. (correct)

e.g. We are not going nowhere. (incorrect)

We are not going anywhere. (correct).

e.g. There isn’t no money left. (incorrect)

There isn’t any money left. (correct)

Omission of Key Verbs

e.g. The room was cleaned, and the curtains washed. (incorrect)

The room was cleaned, and the curtains were washed. (correct)

e.g. I never have, and never will do such a thing. (incorrect)

e.g. I never have done, and never will do such a thing. (correct)

Omission of Words in Comparison

e.g. His performance was better. (incorrect)

His performance was better than that (i.e. the performance) of the other candidates. (correct)

e.g. Your hands are bigger than any man that I know of. (incorrect)

e.g. You hands are bigger than those (i.e. the hands) of any man that I know of. (correct)

Dangling Participles

e.g. Walking down the street, the City Hall could be seen. (incorrect)

Walking down the streetwe could see the City Hall. (correct)

e.g. By exercising every day, your health will improve. (incorrect)

By exercising every dayyou will improve your health. (correct)

Misuse of Dependent Clauses

e.g. Because he had no money was the reason he stayed at home. (incorrect)

He stayed at home because he had no money. (correct)

Because he had no money, he stayed at home. (correct)

Having no money was the reason he stayed at home. (correct)

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Learn Grammar 2

Types of Sentences

The Simple Sentence

 The simple sentence is usually short: it is used to express a simple idea, or to emphasize a point.

e.g. You are right.

e.g. This is easy to do.

Do not use too many simple sentences within a paragraph; otherwise, they may look choppy. Use a simple sentence only to express an idea or to emphasize a point.

1.2. The Compound Sentence

The compound sentence is made up of two or more simple sentences joined together. To join them, you need a coordinate conjunction (e.g. and, but, or , nor, so, yet) A coordinate conjunction means the simple sentences joined together are more or less of equal importance.

e.g. I want to go, and you must come with me.

e.g. You want to go, but I don’t want to go with you.

e.g. You can go, or you can stay.

e.g. You cannot eat this, nor can you take it with you.

e.g. This sentence is wrong, so (you) correct it,

e.g. This sentence is wrong, so (you) correct it,

e.g. He is tired, yet he does not want to go to bed. (“yet” is stronger than “but”)

In addition to using a conjunction, you can also use a punctuation mark, such as a colon;” to explain, or a semi-colon;” to replace a conjunction.

e.g. This is difficult to do: there are many problems that come with it.

e.g. I am tired; I do not want to go to bed now. (replacing the conjunction but)

e.g. I like to sing; my brother likes to paint; my sister likes to dance.

1.3. The Complex Sentence

 The complex sentence is made up two or more simple sentences joined together by subordinate conjunctions, such as after, before, because, if, since, when, while, although, though. A subordinate conjunction suggests that the simple sentence joined is less important. The complex sentence shows the relationship of ideas, i.e. some are more important, and some are less important.

e.g. After you leave, I shall go to bed. (the focus is more on “going to bed”)

Compare: You leave and I go to bed. (the focus is on “leaving” and “going to bed”)

e.g. Before you leave, (you) finish the drink. (the focus is more on “finishing the drink”)

e.g. Before you leave, (you) finish the drink. (the focus is more on “finishing the drink”)

e.g. I give you this because you are nice.

e.g. If you want this, (you) take it.

e.g. Since this belongs to you, (you) take it.

e.g. You can go when you finish this.

e.g. You must do while there is time.

e.g. Although I am tired, I don’t want to go to bed.

e.g. Though it is late, you can stay here for a while.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Learn Grammar 1

Learn Grammar 1

The English language is made up of WORDS, which are nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and articles. The combination of these words forms SENTENCES.

To learn and master English, you must learn its grammar, which consists of rules for you to follow when using and combining the words, especially when you write.

The English Sentence

There are 3 types: simple sentence; compound sentence; complex sentence.

A sentence is made up words: a subject; and a verb. It may or may not have an object.

 A subject or an object can be nouns or pronouns.

Nouns are names of animals (e.g. bird, cat, snake), emotions (e.g. anger, joy, sadness), ideas (e.g. belief, theory, understanding), people (e.g. man, policeman, soldier), things (e.g. bottle, chair, knife), and so on.

 Pronouns are words that represent or stand for nouns: I, you, we, they, she, it, and they.

e.g. I = teacher

e.g. You = student

e.g. They = soldiers

Verbs indicate being or an action:

e.g. He is a policeman. (being)

e.g. They are children. (being)

e.g. A bird sings. (an action)

e.g. A knife cuts. (an action)

A verb may come in different forms: a transitive verb that requires an object; an intransitive verb that does not require an object;  some verbs are both transitive and intransitive.

e.g. He laughs all the time. (only transitive)

e.g. He laughs at you all the time. (you is the object of the preposition at, and not the object of laughs; so “laugh” is considered an intransitive verb.)

e.g. She sings a song. (transitive)

e.g.  She sings. (intransitive)

A sentence must have a subject and a verb, although the subject may be implied or understood:

e.g. (You) Take your money.

e.g. (Nobody is allowed to smoke here) No smoking here!

The subject must agree with the verb:

e.g. I am; he is; it is; she is; they are; we are; you are.

Add “s” to a noun to make it plural or indicate more than one:

e.g. “a boy”; “many boys“; “two boys

But there are many exceptions to the rule:

e.g. “kiss” becomes “kisses“; “tax” becomes “taxes

e.g. “half” becomes “halves“; “man” becomes “men”; “child” becomes “children

In English, description words, such as this and that, pair up with singular nouns, while these and those, with plural nouns.

e.g. this apple; that student; these children; those flowers

In English, there are many nouns that do not have a plural form:

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

 

Learn American Idioms

In fine feather: in good condition; in good health

e.g. With a good night sleep, I am in fine feather today.

After all: in spite of everything

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

Pass the buck: put the blame on someone else not responsible

e.g. It was all your fault! Don’t try to pass the buck!

 On board: participating

e.g. We try to get as many people as possible on board this important project.

 Make oneself at home: feel comfortable

e.g. Please make yourself at home; take off your shoes if you want to.

 Pass the hat: collect money for

e.g. He is always passing the hat for something.

 Late in life: in old age

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

Act one’s age: behave maturely

e.g. Stop behaving like a teenager! Act your age.

No flies on: very alert, smart

e.g. You cannot trick her; there are no flies on her.

Bad sort: an unpleasant person

e.g. He is a bad sort; nobody likes him.

 Bag your face: shut up!

e.g. You and your loud mouth! Go and bag your face!

 Dance to another tune: change to a different attitude or behavior

e.g. If your parents were here, you would dance to another tune.

A little bird told me: somehow I knew

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

Add insult to injury: make things worse

e.g. Enough is enough! Don’t add insult to injury.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© 2018 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