BETTER ENGLISH

For You

Stephen Lau


WHAT IS EFFECTIVE WRITING?

Effective writing is made up of effective sentences that must show some of the following characteristics:

Accuracy

An effective sentence must be grammatically correct. This includes observing the rules of grammar with respect to using the right parts of speech, agreement between subjects and verbs, between pronouns and antecedents, and correct spelling.

Emphasis

The arrangement of words in a sentence can determine which idea receives the most emphasis. To stress a word, place it at the end of a sentence or at the beginning of a sentence. A word or phrase receives the least emphasis when it is placed in the middle of a sentence.

e.g. For many families, foreclosure is the only option. (least emphatic)

e.g. Foreclosure, for many families, is the only option. (emphatic)

e.g. There is only one option for many families: foreclosure. (emphatic)

The use of inversion (reversing the normal order of words in a sentence) is another way of emphasizing an idea.

e.g. Parents who give their children a good moral education are wise. (normal order)

e.g. Wise are the parents who give their children a good moral education. (inversion)

e.g. Those who live without worries of daily problems are happy. (normal order)

e.g. Happy are those who live without worries of daily problems. (inversion)

Remember, not all sentences need special emphasis; effective writing generally contains a mix of some sentences in natural order and others re-arranged for special effects.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 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. For example, the verb “argue” may result in different meanings with different prepositions: 

Argue about: dispute or quarrel with someone over.
e.g. They often argue about racial injustice over the dinner table.

Argue against: make a case against someone or something.
e.g. The police discovered new evidence that argued against the criminal charge.

Argue back: answer back.
e.g. I wish he would not argue back so much.

Argue down: defeat someone in a debate.
e.g. He tries to argue down everyone who has opposite views.

Argue for: make a case for someone.
e.g. My lawyer will argue for me in court.

Argue into: convince someone to do something.
e.g. I could not argue myself into helping you in this project.

Argue with: challenge someone or something.
e.g. I won’t argue with what you do; after all, it is your choice.

Therefore, learn more prepositional phrases and find out how they are different in meaning with different prepositions.

TALK

Talk back: answer impolitely.
e.g. It's rude to talk back to your parents like that.

Talk over: discuss.
e.g. We'll talk over the matter before we see your parents.

BACK

Back down: retreat from a position in an argument.
e.g. Knowing that he did not have a valid point, he backed down.

Back out: desert; fail to keep a promise.
e.g. You said you would help us, but you backed out.

Back out of: fail to keep a promise.
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?

TOUCH

Touch on: mention briefly.
e.g. The professor barely touched on the subject of Civil War.

Touch up: repair.
e.g. Can you touch up the scratches on the door?

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?

PREPOSITIONAL WORDS AND PHRASES

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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Learning a language takes time and effort, especially if it is not your first language. Even if it is your mother tongue, you still need time and effort to master it because almost every language has its own slang and colloquial expressions, and the English language is no exception.

Language is forever changing. What is currently acceptable or popular may be replaced by something else in years to come, and the use of slang is a strong testament to that. Slang is just an alternative way of saying something. It is sometimes hard to identify what is slang and what is not. Slang and colloquial expressions are often acceptable in informal writing because they are used in communication in movies, newspapers, radio, television, and other mass media The more you learn, the more you will know when to use or not to use them in your formal writing. No matter what, knowing these common everyday expressions is a plus for all ESL learners.

Also, read my other book on
American Idioms.

Stephen Lau


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THE USE OF TENSES

To write well, you need to know how to use English tenses correctly. Tenses are difficult to many because in many languages tenses are not used to express "time" or the "relationship of sequence"; instead, adverbs, such as "yesterday", "tomorrow", "soon" etc. are used.

To learn how to use English tenses correctly, you must have a perception of the "time" element.

Let's take a look at present tense, present continuous tense, present perfect tense, past tense, and past perfect tense with the following examples:

PAST<----------------------------------------------------->PRESENT

e.g. I am a U.S. citizen. (present tense)
                           
e.g. I haven been a U.S. citizen for many years. (present perfect tense-I was and still am)

e.g. I live in the United States. (present tense-a fact)  

e.g. I am living in the United States. (present continuous tense-sometimes I live in other places, but right now I am living in the United States)

e.g. I lived in the United States. (past tense-a fact in the past)

e.g. I had lived in the United States for many years, but now I no longer do. (past perfect tense-an action that took place for some time in the past)

Can you now tell the differences between the following sentences?

e.g. I am still a student in this community college.

e.g. I was a student in this community college last year.

e.g. I have been a student in this community college since 2016.

e.g. I had been a student in this community college between 2010 and 2013.

Hopefully, the above examples have demonstrated how you should use some of the English tenses correctly.

Read my book Effective Writing Made Simple.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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HOW TO WRITE EFFECTIVELY

Many people have to write, yet they don’t really like to write; some even hate it! Despite their aversion to writing, they may have to write letters, memos, proposals, reports, or e-mails in their work. Whether they like it or not, writing may be a part of their daily task. Are you one of them? If yes, why not make a virtue out of necessity, and learn the basic skill of effective writing?

Writing is about the written word. Not only is the written word part and parcel of daily life, but also has continued to hold its place in the contemporary world-just as Byron, the famous English poet, once said:

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions
Think.

According to Byron, words are all powerful. But you have to make them powerful, and this is what effective writing is all about. Writing is basically a communication skill-just like any other life skills. Why not master it to give yourself personal satisfaction in being able to communicate your ideas effectively so others will understand exactly what is on your mind?

Is writing such a difficult and daunting task? Not really. Is writing skill learnable? Absolutely!

Today, many books on how to write effectively are readily available. If you walk into any bookstore, you will find a collection of books on how to write well.

What separates
EFFECTIVE WRITING Made Simple from other books on how to improve your writing skill?

First, this book is presented in a simple and easy-to-follow format: basic it is easy to read and understand. Second, this book is comprehensive: it covers every aspect of good writing-from grammar, correct sentences, effective use of words, paragraph development, to style and usage. With many examples and illustrations, this book is like a handy manual at your fingertips for easy reference. Effective writing is an essential communication skill in inter-personal relationships and in almost every profession.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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Learn Some Catch Phrases

The English language is rich in catch phrases, which have caught on with the public. Learn some catch phrases to enrich your use of the language.


There’s blood for breakfast: someone’s temper is very bad this morning.

e.g. Your Mom got off on the wrong side of the bed. So behave yourself: there’s blood for breakfast!

Mum's the word

Not a word of the pudding: say nothing about it; Mum’s the word! (don’t say a word; keep it a secret!).

e.g. It’s just between us; Mom’s the word!

And that’s that: that’s the end of the matter.

e.g. I’m not going, and that’s that! (i.e. the matter is closed; no more discussion)

Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do: giving a piece of good advice.

e.g. Bye now! And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! (i.e. be good)

Go up one: excellent; good for you.

e.g. Good job! Well done! Go up one!

Not if you don’t: a responder to “do you mind?”-i.e. I do mind!

e.g. “Do you mind if I use yours?” “Not if you don’t!”

He thinks he holds it: conceited and vain.

e.g. I don’t like his attitude: he thinks he holds it.

Don’t I know it: how well I know it.

e.g. You don’t have to tell me! Don’t I know it!

Back to the kennel: go way (in a contemptuous way); get back into your box!

e.g. You’re annoying me! Get back into your box!

Don’t pick me up before I fall: don’t criticize prematurely.

e.g. I don’t want to hear a word from you.
Don’t pick me up before I fall!

That’s playing it on the heart-strings: that’s being sentimental instead of realistic.

e.g. Falling head over heals for that girl is more like playing it on the heart-strings.

A snake in your pocket: reluctant to buy his friends a round of drinks or to pay the bill

e.g. Now it's your turn to foot the bill! Have you got a snake in your pocket or something?

Spare a rub: let me have some.

e.g. Don’t take everything: spare me a rub!

Every barber knows that: that’s common gossip.

e.g. That is no longer a secret: every barber knows that.

Easy as you know how: it’s easy-if you know how.

e.g. There is nothing to this: it’s easy as you know how!

I see, said the blind man: a humorous way of saying “I understand!”

e.g. You’re telling me! I see, said the blind man.

I’ll take a rain check: I’ll accept, another time, if I may.

e.g. “Come over to my place for a drink.” “Some other time; I’ll take a rain check.”

Where’s the fire?: what’s all the rush?

e.g. What’s the matter with you? Where’s the fire?

Where’s the body?: why look so sad?

e.g. That’s not the end of the world! Where’s the body?

You must hate yourself!: don’t be so conceited!

e.g. The way you talked to her just now-you must hate yourself for doing that.

Head I win-tail you lose: I’m in a win-win situation.

e.g. It’s mine! Head I win-tail you lose!

Like a red rag to a bull: something that provokes annoyance or anger.

e.g. His very presence was like a red rag to a bull-immediately she looked sullen and sulky.

It’ll all come out in the wash: It’ll be OK; it doesn’t really matter.

e.g. Don’t worry about these minor details; they’ll all come out in the wash!

It’s boloney: it’s utter nonsense.

e.g. To do this is in the wrong order is like putting the cart before the horse-it’s boloney!

A fiasco: a complete failure of organization or performance.

e.g. The government’s bailout of the banks was a fiasco.

Hot from the mint: something “brand new” (mint is a place where money is coined).

e.g. The concept is innovative; it’s hot from the mint!

Straight from the horse’s mouth: first-hand news.

e.g. The story is v
ery reliable-it’s straight from the horse’s mouth.
 
No second prize: used for someone making an unoriginal suggestion

e.g. I must say there’s no second prize for your proposal!

Nothing to do with the case: it’s a lie

e.g. What you're telling me has nothing to do with the case!

CATCH PHRASES AND COLLOQUIAL EXPRESSIONS

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
 
Find out more about Stephen Lau:
Better English Speaking and Writing for All
Having problems with some English words and phrases that may look similar but are different in meaning?
Learn some everyday American idioms, especially if you are an ESL learner.
Learn some English slang and colloquial expressions, not only to use them but also to understand what they mean.
To write effectively, you need to know the essentials of grammar, the correct choice of words, the different types of sentences, the development of paragraphs, the use of style and strategy to achieve your writing purpose.

Most importantly, you learn how to write by writing to overcome your fear of writing.

So, make your writing easier and more effective.
Learn common prepositional English words and phrases that are daily used.
SELECTED POSTS
Learn Some American Idioms


Learn Some Slang and Colloquial Expressions


Learn Some Confusing Words and Phrases
Learn Some Prepositional Words and Phrases


Learn Some Essentials of Effective Writing
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LEARN THESE EVERYDAY EXPRESSIONS

Learning a language takes time and effort, especially if it is not your first language. Even if it is your mother tongue, you still need time and effort to master it because almost every language has its own slang and colloquial expressions, and the English language is no exception.

Ask me another: I don't know.

e.g. "Does your daughter want a baby?" "Ask me another!"

Fork out: pay

e.g. Well, everybody has to fork out $30 for the farewell present to the boss.

In the picture: informed.

e.g. Thank you for putting me in the picture; now I know what's really going on.

Beat: broke, no money.

e.g. Without a job, we are beat, no copper and no bread.

Go: attempt.

e.g. Have a go at doing this on your own.

All the rage: fashionable.

e.g. Wearing a big hat will be all the rage this summer.

Answer is a lemon: no!

e.g. "Can I come with you? "The answer is a lemon!"

How goes it?: what has happened lately?

e.g. “How goes it?” “I just got married!”

In the same boat: in the same difficult situation.

e.g. I just got fired from my job; now we're in the same boat.

e.g. We're now in the same boat: flat broke (meaning having no money).

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR IDEAS

To write effectively, you must know not only how to write correct sentences but also how to use your sentences to expand and develop your ideas.

Develop Your Topic

After introducing your topic, you begin to develop it by giving it more substance. Before you do that, you need to help your readers follow the flow of thought, which is expressed in the following:

Point of View

This relates to how you present a subject. It can be explicit or implicit; it can be personal or impersonal.

Personal tone: You play the role of the writer openly and directly. In this approach, you frequently use I, me, and my.

Impersonal tone: You keep your personality below the surface.

Your point of view should be stated or implied in the opening paragraph, and maintained consistently throughout your writing. Remember the following:

Select your point of view appropriate to your subject.

Establish your point of view in the beginning paragraph.

Maintain your point of view consistently.

Tone

This reflects your personality in your writing. Your tone is inevitably implied in the choice of words you use, how you use them, and their arrangement within your writing. You reveal your tone toward your subject (it can be objective, subjective, or even angry), and toward your reader (it can be assertive or intimate).

Plan Your Writing

Begin your statement of purpose.

Now that you have pulled in all your ideas for what you are going to write, begin your statement of purpose. Write one to two paragraphs describing what you are going to say.

Remember the following:

This statement of purpose is for yourself, not your readers.

You have to think about what you can say before you can think of what you are going to say.

Ideas have to be sought, and then arranged accordingly.

Writing the Introduction

Introductions serve the following purposes:

Setting the tone of your writing

Defining your purpose

Drawing your readers into your writing

Ways for effective introductions

Begin with a relevant quotation that leads to the subject.

Begin with some background information that leads to the subject.

Begin with a relevant question that leads to the subject.

Begin with directly speaking to your readers in an imaginary situation related to the subject.

Begin with a relevant anecdote that leads to your subject.

What to avoid in introductions:

Avoid making obvious general statements.

Avoid making personal statements, such as the use of I.

Avoid making statements that lead to nowhere.

Planning the Outline

Divide your subject with all its ideas into major parts, and then into subparts. Your plan provides a guideline for you. You can always update and make changes to your outline.

Expanding the Writing

You expand your writing by giving it more substance in different paragraphs, with a topic sentence in each.

A good topic sentence is concise and emphatic.

e.g. The United States is now in an economic crisis.

A topic sentence can be in the form of a rhetorical question.

e.g. Why do people go into debt?

A topic sentence is generally placed in the beginning or near the beginning of a paragraph.

Writing the Draft

Write your draft, which is an early version of your writing. Keep writing, and don’t worry about making mistakes in your choice of words or in sentence structure. Just keep on writing, editing, and revising.

In revising, read slowly, and read aloud so that you see as well as hear your words. Revision makes you more thoughtful and critical of what you have written; you will spot mistakes in punctuation, spelling and typing, lack of clarity, or inconsistency.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


ADJECTIVES OR ADVERBS?

Knowing grammatical terms is essential for effective writing because these grammatical terms provide a common language for discussing and talking about what is good and effective writing.

ADJECTIVES

An adjective describes a noun. Adjectives often give precision and meaning to sentences; in other words, they add color to your writing.

Beware: some words are both adjectives (describing nouns) and adverbs (modifying verbs).

e.g. This is hard work. (an adjective)

e.g. He works hard. (an adverb)

Linking verbs, such as be, become, look, seem, smell, taste, require the use of adjectives rather than adverbs.

e.g. He became angry. (NOT angrily)

e.g. He looked angrily at me. (it was the action expressed in the look)

e.g. He looked angry. (it was the expression, not the action)

e.g. She looks happy. (NOT happily)

e.g. The food smells wonderful. (NOT wonderfully)

e.g. The baby was smiling wonderfully.

e.g. The wine tastes good. (NOT well)

ADVERBS

An adverb modifies an action or an adjective.

Most adverbs take the comparative and superlative forms with more and most.

e.g. My father walks more slowly than my mother (does).

e.g. He is the most talented student in the class.

Exceptions to the rule are:

fast, faster, fastest; hard, harder, hardest; soon, sooner, soonest.

e.g. I can run faster than you (run).
        
Certain adjectives do not require adverbs to modify them.

e.g. essential (NOT absolutely essential: essential means “absolutely necessary”)

e.g. unique (NOT most unique or extremely unique: unique means “one of a kind”)

e.g. universe (NOT most universal: there is only one universe.)

EFFECTIVE WRITING MADE SIMPLE

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

LEARNING PREPOSITIONS

Prepositional Words and Phrases

Prepositions are words that indicate the relationships between various elements within a sentence. In formal English, prepositions are almost always followed by objects.

e.g. The policeman shot (verb) the man (object) with (preposition identifying the man being shot) a knife.

e.g. I put (verb) the pen (direct object) on (preposition indicating the position of the pen) the table (indirect object).

e.g. I put (verb) the pen (direct object) under (preposition indicating the position of the pen) the table (indirect object).

Prepositional phrases always consist of the object and the preposition. Prepositional phrases can act as adjectives or adverbs. When they are used as adjectives, they modify nouns and pronouns in the same way single-word adjectives do. When prepositional phrases are used as adverbs, they also act in the same way single-word adverbs and adverb clauses do, modifying adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs.

Prepositional words and phrases are difficult, especially for ESL learners, because different prepositions may impart different meanings to the prepositional words and phrases. Even the same preposition may have different meanings to the same verb.

Break in: enter without permission; interrupt; train; get used to something new.

e.g. A burglar attempted to break in last night but without success.

e.g. Don’t break in while someone is talking; it’s rude!

e.g. The manager has to break the new employees in so that they may know what to do.

e.g. You should break your new car in before you drive on the highway.

Prepositional Words and Phrases for ESL Learners has hundreds of prepositional words and phrases with explanations and examples, just like the ones illustrated above, for you reference. Improve your English with your mastery of prepositional words and phrases.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau



CONFUSING WORDS

English Words and Phrases Frequently Confused and Misused.

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 those 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.

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 movie star looks decorous in that simple but elegant dress.

Indoor / Indoors

Indoor is an adjective; indoors is an adverb.

e.g. Bowling is an indoor game.

e.g. It's going to rain; let's go indoors.

Hail / Hale

Hail means to greet or salute.

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

Hale means healthy and strong.

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

Terminable / Terminal

Terminable: can be ended.

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

Terminal: at the end.

e.g. The doctor told the patient that she had terminal cancer.

Genteel / Gentle

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

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

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

Gentle:  soft and well-behaved.

e.g. He is a gentleman: he is especially gentle with the ladies.

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 movie star looks decorous in that simple but elegant dress.

Indoor / Indoors

Indoor is an adjective; indoors is an adverb.

e.g. Bowling is an indoor game.

e.g. It's going to rain; let's go indoors.

Hail / Hale

Hail means to greet or salute.

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

Hale means healthy and strong.

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

Terminable / Terminal

Terminable: can be ended.

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

Terminal: at the end.

e.g. The doctor told the patient that she had terminal cancer.

Genteel / Gentle

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

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

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

Gentle:  soft and well-behaved.

e.g. He is a gentleman: he is especially gentle with
the ladies.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
Pick out the incorrect sentences from groups containing both correct and incorrect sentences. You will be given the explanation why they are correct or incorrect.

Correcting the incorrect helps you avoid sentence errors in your writing.

Click here to get your book.
              THE GRAMMAR BASICS

Effective writing means knowing, learning, and understanding the grammar basics

Knowing the Grammatical Terms

Knowing the rules of grammar does not mean you will become a good writer, but it will certainly help you avoid bad writing. In addition, knowing the essentials of grammar may give you the following advantages:

Avoiding grammatical errors

Providing clarity to your writing

Giving credibility to your readers

Knowing grammatical terms is essential for effective writing because these grammatical terms provide a common language for talking about good writing.

Knowing the Eight Parts of Speech

Knowing grammar basics means knowing the eight parts of speech in English words and writing:

NOUNS

A noun names a person, place, or thing.

A noun can be singular (referring to only one) or plural (referring to more than one). Generally, you make a singular noun plural by adding an “s”; however, some nouns do not follow this general rule:

e.g. enemy becomes enemies

e.g. goose becomes geese

e.g. hero becomes heroes

e.g. sheep remains sheep

Some nouns are countable, e.g. books, while some are not, e.g. hunger.

A noun can be possessive (indicating ownership).

e.g. Tom and Jerry’s house (NOT Tom’s and Jerry’s house)

e.g. Jesus’ sayings (NOT Jesus’s sayings)

e.g. the bottom of the page (NOT the page’s bottom)

e.g. the characters of Star Wars (NOT Star Wars’ characters)

A noun MUST AGREE with a verb in a sentence, that is, a singular noun requiring a singular verb, and a plural noun requiring a plural verb.

e.g. The data indicate (NOT indicates) that there is a strong demand for this type of goods. (data is the plural form of datum.)

e.g. The criteria for selection are based (NOT is) on the recommendations of the trustees. (criteria is plural)

e.g. Human rights is an important issue in this country. (singular: human rights treated as a single unit and thus requiring a singular verb)

e.g.Human rights are ignored in many parts of the world. (plural: human rights considered individual rights of people)

e.g. Four thousand dollars is a lot of money to me. (singular: a monetary unit)

A proper noun names a specific person, place, or event, e.g. Tom Cruise, Chicago, and World War I.

A proper noun is always capitalized, e.g. The Great Depression (BUT an economic depression).

VERBS

A verb expresses an action or a state of being.

Action verbs give life to sentences.

e.g. The police officer shot the suspect.

e.g. The bomb exploded.

e.g. He jumped for joy when he heard the good news.

Linking verbs complete sentences but without expressing any action.

e.g. We were unhappy.

e.g. My sister is a school teacher.

e.g. I have no money.

Some verbs can be both linking and action verbs.

e.g. The dish smells delicious. (The linking verb links to the quality of the smell; therefore, it is WRONG to say: “The dish smells deliciously.”)

e.g. The security guard’s dog smelled the man’s luggage. (an action verb)

A transitive verb carries an object; an intransitive verb does not.

e.g. The burglar took the money. (direct object: money)

e.g. My parents sent me some money. (direct object: money; indirect object: me )

e.g. The child is sleeping like a baby. (an intransitive verb)

Many verbs can be both transitive and intransitive.

e.g. We are eating our dinner. (transitive)

e.g. They are eating. (intransitive)

e.g. She sings folk songs. (transitive)

e.g. She sings beautifully. (intransitive)

Only transitive verbs can be used in the passive voice.

e.g. The suspect was shot by the police officer.

e.g. The money was taken by the burglar.

e.g. The money was sent by my parents.

Of course, there are other parts of speech you need to learn, as well, including adverbs, pronouns, adjectives, and prepositions etc. Once you are familiar with the grammar basics, then you can begin writing. With more practice, you can become an expert in effective writing.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lauouble click to edit
NEW BOOK: Use TAO wisdom and spiritual wisdom to live in reality with accountability--a life with no depression.
              LEARN SOME SLANG

Can’t complain
: It’s okay.

e.g. “How are things going with you?” “Can’t complain.

Remember me to someone: Say hello to someone for me.

e.g. “Please remember me to your brother. He’s such a nice fellow.” “Yes, I will.”

Can it!: Be quiet!

e.g. “That’s enough out of you. Can it!”

You can say that again: That is so true.

e.g. “This is probably one of the coldest winters.” “You can say that again.”

Come off it!: Stop acting that way.

e.g. “I don’t find that funny. Come off it!”

You bet: You can be quite certain.

e.g. “Can I have another cup of coffee?” “You bet.”

Not in my books: not according to my views.

e.g. "Is this good enough?" "Not in my books."

It blows my mind: it's amazing, almost unbelievable.

e.g. "Did you hear that he passed the exam with flying colors?" "It blows my mind."

I can live with that: I'm okay with that; I'll get used to it.

e.g. "That one may cost more." "I can live with that."

Keep one's shirt on: Calm down; don't get too excited.

e.g. "Cool off! Keep your shirt on. This is not the end of the world can't make heads or tails of what you're saying.  You're totally beyond me."

Snap it up: be quick.

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

No sweat: it's okay; no problem.

e.g. "I'm sorry I'm late." "No sweat! We've all the time in the world."

Over my dead body: absolutely not!

e.g. "Can I come with you? " "Over my dead body!"

Yesterday wouldn't be too soon: as soon as possible.

e.g. "When do you want me to give this to you?" "Yesterday wouldn't be too soon!"

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 divorce."

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Hell-bent on: very determined.

e.g. The team is hell-bent on winning the game tonight.

Not born yesterday: not as naive or foolish as you think.

e.g. Don't give me all that nonsense. I was not born yesterday.

Right you are: I agree.

e.g. "I think I'm going to accept this job." "Right you are."

All at sea: confused.

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

Get cold feet: become anxious and fearful.

e.g. He got cold feet, and left without taking the challenge.

All hot and bothered: agitated, confused, or excited.

e.g. She was all hot and bothered when she heard the news of their divorce.

Poorly: sick or unwell.

e.g. What's the matter with you today? I say, you look poorly!

Saw you coming: realized your ignorance.

e.g. You gave him the money right away without asking any question; he saw you coming!

Pooped: exhausted.

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

Say one's piece: say what one ought to say.

e.g. I must say my piece: that was not a nice thing to say to your parents.

No can do: I cannot do it.

e.g. "Can you do this now?" "No can do.”

Try as I may: I regret or fail to do something.

e.g. "Can you do something with this machine?" "Try as I may, I can't make it work."

Worst-case scenario: the worst consequence.

e.g.  A blizzard is coming. The worst-case scenario is that all public transport will be suspended.

Pipe dream: Something impossible or unrealistic

e.g. The Mayor said that building another highway would be a pipe dream in the current economic environment.

Not budging / Not giving an inch / Sticking to my guns: Being firm.

e.g. "We're not going to cancel the charges. We're not budging."

e.g. Despite the protests, the government would not give an inch.

e.g.  "I'm not moving out. That's out of the question. I'm sticking to my guns."

See to it right away: Take care of a complaint or problem.

e.g. "The tap is leaking." "Yes, I'll see to it right away."

Call for an apology: Demand an apology.

e.g. Your reckless behavior calls for an apology.

In a nutshell: In summary

e.g. "We're having serious financial and relationship problems." "In a nutshell, you want to divorce your wife?"

No can do: I cannot do it..

e.g. "Can you do this now?" "No can do.”

Beats me: I don't know; I've no idea.

e.g. "Do you know how this works?" "Bets me."

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau