Friday, February 29, 2008

Squatting and standing as a good form of exercise

In my post about qigong, I mentioned wall-squatting which is usually practised by zhineng qigong enthusiasts daily. It is actually very good for maintaining health.

In this post, I would like to discuss squatting and standing alternately as a form of exercise. It is in fact part 3 of the 3-1-2 Acupuncture Meridian Exercise widely promoted in China. The second exercise consists of breathing in and out with concentration on Dantian (meridian point three fingers below the navel) and it is known as abdominal breathing. The first is a bit tricky as it involves pressing or massaging three meridian or acupuncture points. One of these is between the forefinger and the thumb called ‘Hegu’ and another is in the middle of the calf called ‘Zusanli’. The third one is below the wrist called ‘Neiguan’.

To do squatting, start from standing position and slowly squat down while stretching both arms parallel to the ground, palms facing downwards. Then rise slowly to the standing position, still with the arms stretching forward and palms facing the ground. Start day 1 with 10 times’ squatting and standing alternately. Increase to 20 times the next day and so on. Some can do up to 1000 times. However, don’t over exert yourself. 100 times of this form of exercise per day will do wonders to your health.

One of the benefits of this form of exercise is stamina building. You will find that you won’t feel tired even if you have to work for a long period of time during the day. Mostly importantly, you are alert all the time.

This is the health tip I like to share with you today.
Happy squatting and standing for your health.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Past Future Perfect Tense

Past future perfect tense is in the form of :
would (not) have + past participle.

It usually pairs with past perfect tense.
This tense is used to describe some action that has happened earlier which results in something not to the satisfaction of the doer.

Example 1:
If I had asked come earlier, I would have bought the last copy of the book.
Explanation: I did not come earlier. If I did, the last book would still be there and I had the chance to buy it.

Example 2:
If man had shown concern towards the Earth, it would not have been polluted to the present extent.
Explanation: Man did not show concern towards the Earth. Man polluted the Earth every now and then. It reached a serious state when this sentence is written.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How I get ideas to blog

I write my blog daily right from first day I started it. Sometimes I wonder how I can get idea for each day’s post. Somehow ideas seem to come when I wake up at six in the morning.

I will switch on my Pocket PC the first in the morning. It is my tool to pen my idea.
During the morning, my mind is still fresh and I can usually think of something to blog.

I normally give priority to cultural events in my country as these are timely and will be of interest to the international readers. English tips will be my fillers whenever no important event crops up.
Ideas will come when I simply key in something and somehow or other, I will know what to write the day. This is what is known as inspiration.

I hope to be able to continue having something to write about for the day in my blog.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Present and Past Particples

The present participle is used after a finite verb in a sentence. So is the past participle. I shall explain what is meant by these through the following examples.

Example 1 : I stood there, staring at the cat.

In this sentence, the finite verb or the main verb is ‘stood’. There must not be any more finite verbs unless the sentence is joined to another sentence by a conjunction such as ‘and’. Hence we use ‘staring’, the present participle after the finite verb ‘stood’ has been used.
It will be wrong to write ‘I stood there, stared at the cat.’ but it is correct if we write ‘I stood there and stared at the cat.’

Example 2 : They went forward, driven by sheer determination.

The past participle in the above sentence is ‘driven’ and it is used after the finite verb ‘went’. The past participle can also be used somewhere in front of the finite verb. For example, it is correct if we write ‘Haunted by the unsolved problem, the man was restless the whole day.’
The use of present and past participle add variety to our style of writing. Students of English should master these two verb forms to produce good essays.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How to overcome delusion

In Buddhism, delusion refers to the state of not being able to understand the true nature of things. It is one of the three evils that cause us to suffer.

If we understand that all things are impermanent and start to practise detachment, then we will be able to overcome delusion.

A man will grow old as days go by. He cannot stay young and handsome forever. So is a girl. This is one of the true nature of things.
We may be with our beloved this moment and he or she may be gone the next moment. If we attach too much love to him or her, we will suffer, i.e. feel very sad for parting with him or her. Only detachment that we practise will overcome delusion such as this, thinking that we will be with our beloved from day 1 to eternity

Sunday, February 24, 2008

How to lessen hatred towards others

In my earlier post, I mentioned that according to Buddhism, there are three evils that hinder one to achieve enlightenment. These include greed, hatred and delusion. In my last post, I suggest that we practise doing dana to lessen or get rid of greed.

In this post, I will discuss how to lessen hatred towards others. We hate others when they have done something to hurt us physically or mentally.

Let us think again in terms of reincarnation. The person who hurt you may be the one whom you hurt in your last life. Hence, we should not retaliate or the cycle will repeat. Instead, we try to forgive the one who hurt you bodily or mentally. In this way, you will not harbour hatred towards him anymore.

When you really cannot stop hating others, try to meditate or chant the name of the Buddha. By doing any of these, you will find that you will have peace of mind, including clearing your mind of the very thought of hating others.

Anohter way of getting rid of hatred is to practise loving all beings, including animals. If you are really sincere in your act, you will find that others will reciprocate as love is a two-way process, that is, love begets love.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dana and Buddhists

Buddhists like to do dana - the act of giving food or robes to the monks. Dana can also mean giving help to others who need it and it can be in the form of money, things, advice or kind words to cheer someone up.

Those who give money to help the needy will get back money much more than what they have donated according to the law of karma (cause and effect).

Buddhists will become wiser by giving kind words to someone to cheer him up or guide him to the right path.

You can even wish that a certain function to be held will be successful. This can constitute dana too.

Hence you need not be rich to practise doing dana.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How to practise Buddhism

Buddhism is considered a way of life. As such, practising Buddhism is just leading our lives according to the teachings of the Buddha.
Basically, we are to get rid of the three evils, namely avarice or greed, hatred and delusion.

We can stay away from greed by being generous, giving things and rendering services to others more than receiving them. In this way we will be less egoistic and think more of others' needs than our own.

Avoiding hatred towards others is a bit more difficult to practise but if we think in terms of reincarnation and treat others as our mothers, fathers, siblings and relatives in our past lives, then we have every reason to endear them to us and not otherwise.

Getting rid of delusion is to practise detachment. We should not attach too much of our feeling towards our dear ones as according to Buddhism, all things are not constant. Withering of flowers is a very good example of this. If we attach too much feeling towards our dear ones we may feel very sad should they get hurt, fall sick or pass away.

Our aim of getting rid of the above three evils is to attain nothingness, leading to nirvana - the ultimate aim of all Buddhists.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chap Goh Mei

Today is Chap Goh Mei - the 15th day of Chinese New Year. In Hokkien, "chap goh' and 'mei' mean 'fifteen' and 'mei' respectively. It is literally 'the fifteenth night'. It is called Yuan Xiao Jie (End of 1st moon Festival) in Mandarin and marks the end of Lunar New Year.

In ancient China, girls were not usually allowed to go out of their houses. However, on Yuan Xiao Jie they were allowed out to witness the merry atmosphere of the night. They would be seen by eligible bachelors who would then send match-makers to ask for their hands in marriage. In this way, young lads and lasses had a chance to find their life-partners. That explains why Chap Goh Mei or Yuan Xiao Jie is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day.

It has been the practise that ladies on this night will throw mandarin oranges in the hope of getting good husbands while the bachelors will throw drums to get good wives.

In Gurney Drive, Penang, competition of throwing mandarin oranges used to be held and it attracted a large crowd including foreign tourists.

Happy Yuan Xiao Jie.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to improve your English

English is an international language and the key to acquiring knowledge. As such, one should try to improve on the language.

There are several ways to do this.

First, take a great interest in the language. Only with interest will your effort of learning the language be sustained. Read anything English. It can be a label on a can, a newspaper page, a book or a magazine.

Second, buy a good English dictionary, preferably one that has English explanation only so that inhibition of one's mother tongue will not occur.

Third, speak with a friend who is proficient in English. When we listen to one who speaks good English, we will be influenced by him or her to do the same too.

Fourth, listen to news on radio and television, paying attention to the pronunciation. BBC provides good English audio files for you to listen to in your effort to master the language.

Fifth, keep a journal. A journal enables you to put your thoughts on paper or electronically like what I do with my Pocket PC.

As conclusion, in order to improve on our English, interest counts most. With interest, we will find someone to converse with, tune to a radio station to listen to the English news, read English newspapers, books and magazines every day and keep a journal as a way of writing in English.

Happy learning English.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Subject-Verb Agreement

Students of English often make mistakes in subject-verb agreement. The following are some examples and their corrections:
Example 1
One of the boys come here every day. [wrong]
One of the boys comes here every day. [correct]
Explanation: The subject is ‘one’, singular.

Example 2
Either of the girls do not know my name. [wrong]
Either of the girls does not know my name. [correct]
Explanation: ‘Either of the girls’ means ‘anyone of the girls’. So the subject is singular.

Example 3
Neither of us have the key to the room. [wrong]
Neither of us has the key to the room. [correct]
Explanation: ‘Neither of the us’ means ‘not one of us’. Hence the subject is singular.

Example 4
John, together with his brother were at the bus stop just now. [wrong]
John, together with his brother was at the bus stop just now. [correct]
Explanation: The subject here is John, singular.

Example 5
My friend and owner of this shop always play badminton with me. [wrong]
My friend and owner of this shop always plays badminton with me. [correct]
Explanation: My friend is also the owner of the shop. So, the subject is singular.
However, if ‘owner’ is preceded by ‘the’, then ‘plays’ should be replaced with ‘play’.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chanting the Buddha's Name

When we talk about Buddhism, meditation always comes to our mind as a way of practising Buddhism.

Meditation is good but you need guidance or you may be in trouble as you may be possessed by evil spirits.

In this post, I will talk about another way of achieving the same effect as meditation in terms of acquiring peace of mind and nothingness. It is chanting Buddha's name.

We can chant the name of any Buddha, preferably Amita Buddha many times a day. It can be 108 times or more. When we chant, we say 'Namo Amita Buddha' clearly, concentrating on each word we utter. With full concentration, we will clear our mind of all mundane things and achieve calmness. It is said that if we chant sincerely and whole-heartedly, golden light will fill the place where we sit chanting. It is the light manifested by the Buddha.

People who practise this method enjoy good health because peace of mind allows the organs in the body to function well.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What I Learnt from Buddhism

In my quest for a religion to follow, I have studied Christianity and Buddhism.

In this post, I would like to talk about what I have learnt from Buddhism.

Buddhism is more a way of life than religion as practised by followers of other faiths. I learn from Buddhism that we are responsible for our every act. In other words, no one else will be able to help you achieve nirvana (eternal bliss) but yourself. According to Buddhism, we cannot free ourselves from suffering because of greed, hatred and delusion. We want more of everything and it leads to disappointment when we fail to get what we want. We get angry easily over minor things and start hating the one who aggravates us. Delusion refers to failure to understand the cause and effect phenomenon.
One way of getting rid of these three ills is through meditation. It makes us less greedy, not so easily angered and realise that there is such a thing as karma. Some monks have done experiments to prove the truth in cause and effect phenomenon. The following are some of the interesting cases:
1 Those who like to suffocate mice will suffer from sinus problems which are connected with breathing. Suffocation means deprivation of breathing, thereby causing death.

2 Those who like to dirty walls in schools or public places have coloured patches on their faces. One the other hand, people who have smooth and feckle-free faces are the ones who always keep their own places and public places clean all the time. I think ladies will like to practise the latter to have very fair complexion.

3 Those who like to hunt will get shot by their friends by chance. There were many cases of hunters being shot by their friends who thought that they were the animals that they wanted to shoot.

4 If we practise dana (giving money or food to monks or the needy), we will be rewarded many folds the money or food given to others.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

How to use 'bring' and 'fetch' correctly

In my earlier post, I discussed how to use 'borrow' and 'lend' correctly. In this post, I will guide readers on the correct usage of 'bring' and 'fetch'.

Remember these points when you use 'bring' and 'fetch':

1 'bring' means 'to take something from our place (near) to somewhere far away (far).'

2 'fetch' means 'to take something from far to our place (near).'

Based on the above, we can make sentences such as the following:

1 I bring my English dictionary to school every day.

2 Father usually asks me to fetch brother from his school which is 10 kilometres away from my house.

3 'Go and fetch me a pail of water from the tap there,' said Lisa to me.

4 'Bring your own drawing paper tomorrow,' said the Art teacher to her pupils before they went home.

The following sentences are considered wrong based on my earlier explanation.

1 "Fetch me a cup of tea," said John to his wife who is in the kitchen.


The use of 'fetch' is wrong here because John asks his wife to take a cup of tea (from where she is) to the sitting room (which is far from her). The action is from near to far and 'bring' should be used in place of 'fetch' in this case.

2 "Go and bring a fail from the cabinet there," said Mr Tan to his secretary.

Explanation: 'bring' is incorrectly used here because Mr Tan who is beside his secretary asks her to go from where she is to take a fail from the cabinet (which is far from her) to him (who is near her who he speaks). It is a case of 'from far to near'. Hence the correct verb to be used here is 'fetch'.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Praying to Jade Emperor

Today is the 9th day of Chinese New Year. The Hokkien especially will pray to Jade Emperor ( or Tnee Kong in Hokkien).

Things laid on the table for praying include sugarcane stems with leaves tied to the front left and right legs of the table, pagodas made of sugar, pomelo, pineapple, watermelon and other cakes such as nian gao and huat kuih (get-rich cake)..
Some Chinese will even burn gigantic jossticks called long xing or dragon jossticks which will continue to glow until the next day.

The inclusion of sugarcane stems needs explanation. They are offered for prayer to commemorate the narrow escape of the Hokkien people in the past when they were pursued by their enemies and had no where to hide but to go into the sugar plantation. The sugarcane plants had saved their lives because the enemies failed to spot them hiding there.
As for the offering of pineapple, it is for good luck and prosperity because the fruit is called 'ong lai' meaning 'here comes good luck or here comes prosperity'.

Despite the ban, the sound of firecrackers will fill the air here and there, especially in Penang at a few seconds after midnight to mark the beginning of the ninth day of Lunar New Year when the above prayer is done. Tourists who come to Penang will have something to remember by, especially the sound of firecrackers on this night [after midnight on Day 8 of CNY].

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I have blogged for three months

Since I started this blog, I have blogged for three months. I have learnt quite a lot of things about blogging. If you ask me to stop blogging now, I don't think I will quit. From no visitor to an average of 15 visitors per day now and my technocrati rank has reached the top 10k category, I have all the reasons to go on penning my posts.

Being a language teacher as I am still teaching English and Malay, I feel that I should share my knowledge and experience with fellow bloggers and blog readers in English. Hence most of the posts are about English. I also like to talk about Chinese culture and current events or celebrations. If your read through all my earlier posts, you will have read my unique experiences in astray travelling, spiritual healing, qigong, karma and my experience while paying homage to Sai Baba when I had the chance to see him materialise a bracelet out of nothing for a boy who went on stage to receive a certain award for his good deed.

I hope to be able to write something useful to readers each day.

Happy blogging to those who like to put words on the net in a column like this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tossing Yu Sheng

Tossing the ingredients as high as you can

Today is the 7th day of Chinese New Year. On this day, the Chinese, especially businessmen will be tossing yu sheng at restaurants.

“Yu” as I mentioned in my earlier post, means “fish” originally but the Chinese takes its sound and opt for another word of the same pronunciation but it has the meaning of “surplus”. “Sheng” which carries the meaning of “raw” is also forgone and another homonym is chosen. The substituted word means “going up and up” Combination of the two words will mean “having surplus of earnings in business and getting promoted in position for staff of any company one works for”.

The ingredients consist of raw fish, rice crackers, lime, peanut crumbles, sesame oil and plum sauce. Each of these has its significance or meaning. Raw fish symbolizes increasing abundance. The entire floor full of gold is represented by rice crackers while lime is for a productive year. Ladies will like the inclusion of lime in yu sheng as it symbolizes eternal youth. Peanut crumbles which are grinded coarsely represent gold and silver that fill the house while sesame oil is supposed to bring a year of wealth and plum sauce symbolizes sweet and comfortable life.

How to use past perfect tense.

In my earlier post, I discussed how to use present perfect tense. Today, I will talk about how past perfect tense is used.

The past perfect tense usually pairs with simple past tense. These are the things you need to bear in mind when using past perfect tense:

a) Use past perfect tense for the action done / happened earlier.

b) Use simple past tense for the action done / happened later.

Example 1

I had taken my breakfast when I went out. [Taking breakfast is the action done earlier than going out.]

Example 2

No sooner had I reached home than it rained. [Reaching home happened earlier than raining.]

Example 3

My brother had done his homework before he watched television.

[Doing homework took place earlier than watching television.]

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Significance of Hong Bao

Sample Hong Bao 1

Sample Hong Bao 2

On the 1st day of Chinese New Year, children will be most happy because they will receive hong bao in Mandarin or ang pau in Hokkein. A hong bao is actually a red packet containing money.

Why do parents give hong bao to their children?

Well, hang bao was known as ya sui qian or money to suppress evil. According to legend, the Chinese in China was once attacked by a fierce animal known as nian. It usually came on the first moon of the lunar calendar. One year, the animal which was scared of the colour red and din came again. The villagers quickly painted their houses red and made a lot of noise by beating drums and other things. Nian ran away on seeing red houses and hearing the loud sound. It never frequented them again after that. Since then, the Chinese celebrated Xin Nian (New Year) on Day 1 of the first moon according to the lunar calendar.

Hence the red packet given to children is to scare away evil like the nian which is afraid of red. This is the main aim of putting hong bao under the pillows of children on the eve of Chinese New Year, that is to help them ward off evil.

Monday, February 11, 2008

No Sweeping of Floor on CNY

Today is the 5th day of Lunar New Year. In this post I would like to talk about some taboos on Chinese New Year.

On the 1st day of Chinese New Year (CNY), the broom is kept away lest we use it. It is believed by the Chinese and I am one, that sweeping the floor on CNY is driving away cai or money. So most Chinese parents have to tolerate some rubbish on the floor on this day as it is a welcome sign of cai because rubbish equates wealth.

Another thing the Chinese won’t do on CNY is to speak unkind or unlucky words as they will bring bad luck for the current lunar year.

The Chinese will also shun food that will bring suffering because of the name attached to certain kinds of food such as bitter gourds, fried squids (as chow yau yu is its equivalent in Cantonese and it means get sacked from a job)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Receiving Deities back from Heavenly Realm

Today is Day 4 of Lunar New Year. Most Chinese believe that the deities including Kitchen Dewa who has reported to the Jade Emperor in Dewa Realm about the merits and demerits of the house he dwelt in will be back. So offering of fruits and cakes to them will be done to welcome those deities back to earth.

Nian gao will also be one of the items put on the altar as an offering. Penang Hokkiens still practise this custom of welcoming back deities on the 4th day of Chinese New Year.

So much for the custom practised by the Chinese including my family.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Phrasal Verbs

A phrasal verb is defined as a verb plus a preposition or adverb which creates a meaning different from the original verb. The use of phrasal verbs in an essay offers a way of adding variety to our writing. Besides, native speakers use phrasal verbs most of the time and students of English should make an effort to learn as many phrasal verbs as possible so that they are at their disposal when needed. The following are examples of phrasal verbs.

1 add up = make sense

I don’t believe in his story because it does not add up.

2 blow up = explode or suddenly become very angry

The bomb had blown up before a team of experts could come to defuse it.

As soon as John saw the mess in the house, he blew up and his sons got scolded.

3 call on = visit

When I went to Kuala Lumpur yesterday, I called on my relative who lived there.

4 do without = manage without something one wants or needs

We have to do without a house maid because we can no longer afford one.

5 eat out = eat outside the home

Working couples like to eat out because they have no time to prepare meals at home.

6 fall through = fail to happen

My plan to start a business fell through because of lack of capital.

7 go on = continue or happen

You must go on exercising to keep yourself physically fit.

What is going on here?

8 hand in = submit

We have to hand in our homework by Friday.

9 iron out = eliminate

They will try to iron out the problem at the meeting.

10 jump to = make a quick, poorly thought out decision

We should not jump to conclusion too fast.

11 keep on = continue

The hikers kept on walking until they reached their destination.

12 let down = disappoint

You must study hard to pass your exam so as not to let us down.

13 make up = invent ( a story), reconcile

The pupil made up a story to explained why he was late for school.

After the squabble, the two brothers finally made up.

14 nod off = fall asleep

As the talk was very boring, most students in the hall nodded off after half an hour.

15 occur to = come to one's mind

It suddenly occurred to me that I had not brought my wallet along.

16 pass out = become unconscious

The man who was waiting for his bus in the burning sun passed out.

17 quiet down = cause to be quiet

The librarian asked the students who were whispering to quiet down.

18 rule out = eliminate

The police did not rule out foul play in the murder case.

19 settle up = pay one's debts

Before new loan is allowed to be applied, a borrower has to settle up his earlier debt.

20 take after = resemble

Lina takes after her best friend so much that others think that they are sisters.

21 use up = use all of something

He used up all the paint available to paint the wall of his house.

22 veer away from = stay away from, avoid

Parents usually advises their children to veer away from drug abuse which will ruin their future.

23 wear off = disappear after a period of time

The patient felt painful after some time when the effect of the anaesthetic wore off.

24 yak on = to continue talking in an annoying way

I really admire my sister because she can yak on and on when she talks to anybody.

25 zonk out = fall asleep

Because of exhaustion, he zonked out the moment he lay on his bed.

Friendship Award

Friendship Award

This is the friendship award which I received from blogger friend Ricka.
Thank you Ricka for passing on the above award to me. I really hope there will be a strong bond among bloggers. In fact, we should treat each other like good friends, walking the path of blogging as long as time and life permit.

Long live friendship among bloggers.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Auspicious Food to be Served during Chinese New Year

Today is the second day of Chinese New Year. I would like to talk about food preferred by the Chinese during Chinese New Year.

To the Chinese, a good beginning is important. Hence during Chinese New Year, every child is taught to utter only good words to others including his parents. In order to remain auspicious, food is also carefully chosen to achieve this end.

As far as food is concerned, the Chinese will choose food that can bring good fortune or happiness to them. For example, they will take fish whose pronunciation is akin to “yu” (pronounced something like “we” in English) which means surplus. In other words the Chinese believe that eating fish on Chinese New Year will enable them to have a lot of gain in terms of money through doing business or rendering services to others.

In restaurants, "yee sang", a dish consisting of raw fish is popular among Chinese as it is deemed auspicious. This is because "yee" or "yu" which originally means "fish" has the same pronunciation as "yu" which carries the meaning of "surplus" and "sang" or "sheng" with "raw" as one of its meanings rhymes with "sheng", another word which means "going up or rising". Therefore "yee sang" or "yu sheng" is intended to mean "having surplus and going up and up in postion held or money earned".

Another food is prawn which is called “ha” in Cantonese. In Cantonese, “siu ha ha” means “laughing heartily” If the Chinese take prawns during Chinese New Year, they believe that they will have happiness in life just like they laugh gleefully when they are happy.

Sea cucumber is the next preferred food because it sounds like “hoi sum” which means “happy” in Cantonese. This food is also considered capable of bringing happiness to one who takes it during Chinese New Year.

Friendship Meme

I received the above meme from Jaja and Sheng. Thank you Jaja and Sheng for appreciating my blog and passing the friendship meme to me.

I believe that friendship among bloggers help to spur us on to write about what interests us. The posts that are generated will be read by fellow bloggers or net surfers who come to our blogs through search engines. Hence we have to think and plan before putting words into our blogs so that visitors will gain something from our posts.

Happy blogging to all.

N.B. A meme is a unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chinese New Year

Today is Xin Nian or Chinese New Year (CNY). I would like to wish all Chinese A Very Happy Chinese New Year.

This is a day that children are looking forward to because they have a lot to gain. First they will get hong bao from their parents, brothers and sisters who are married and relatives. Next, they get immunity from scolding as parents will definitely not tell off their children on this day lest bad luck should befall the latter. The most thrilling thing is being able to play with firecrackers (banned in Malaysia) or fireworks. They will also be able to savour all types of biscuits, cakes and dishes.

For adults, they will be visiting their relatives with their children tagging along. It is an exchange of hong bao as parents of both families will give the red packets to the other party's offspring.

In Malaysia, open houses hosted by political leaders are very common. Tourists sometimes attend them too to feel what it is like to celebrate CNY through the food served by the hosts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Reunion Dinner

Today is chu xi or Chinese New Year Eve. It is a day when family members will gather for the annual Reunion Dinner.

Why is it termed Reunion Dinner? Well, throughout the year members of the family are busy with their own things and have no time to meet. Some may even be working outstation or overseas. However, on this day, everyone will try his best to get back to his parents' house to be together again. This is indeed reunion for the family. Dinner for everyone present will be served then. Parents will be too happy to see their sons and daughters who are away most of the time chasing wealth or devoting their time to their own families, back home at least on Chinese New Year Eve.

Some parents will quietly place hong bao or red packets containing money under the pillows of their children as ya sui qian or money to ward off evil for the year. Their intention is good as they want their offspring to be safe throughout the new year.

Some modern parents do not know about the significance of the hong bao and only present them to their children on Chinese New Year as monetary gifts.

On chu xi, that is today, children will stay awake from 12.00 midnight until daybreak. The Chinese believe that if their children do this, they will have good health and longevity.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How to write varied sentences

In my post on how to write grade A essays, I mentioned that it should contain varied sentences. Well, I would like to show you how a sentence can be written in various ways yet maintaining the same meaning in this post.

Example 1 : Suddenly, he saw a snake by chance and tried to beat it with a stick.

The above sentences can be rewritten in a few ways, such as:

a) All of a sudden, he spotted a snake and attempted to strike it with a club.

b) All at once, he chanced to see a snake and hit it with a stick.

c) Suddenly, a snake came into sight and he beat it with a club.

Example 2: His comic act made us laugh incessantly.

We can rewrite the sentence above in these ways:

a) His funny act had us in stitches.

b) We could not help laughing when we saw his comic act.

c) We broke into laughter which could not be stopped when we saw his funny act.

Example 3: We went straight to the canteen the moment the bell rang.

The following sentences can be used in place of the above sentence:

a) We made a beeline for the canteen when we heard the bell.

b) The bell prompted us to dash to the canteen.

c) We bolted to the canteen as soon as the bell rang.

Example 4: I bumped into my old friend the other day.

Sentences similar in meaning to the above are as follows:

a) I met an old pal by chance a few days ago.

b) I came across an old friend of mine the other day.

c) I chanced to meet my old friend a few days ago.

Example 5: I will certainly consider your suggestion.

These are the sentences that can be written to replace the above:

a) I will surely give your suggestion a thought.

b) I will definitely mull over your proposal.

c) I will surely give your proposal due consideration

Monday, February 4, 2008

How to use the present perfect tense

The present perfect tense poses problems to students of English. The blogs of quite a number of blogs I visited made mistakes regarding the use of the above tense.

Let me make it easy for readers on how to use it correctly.

1 When an action has been completed and you do not want to tell when you did it, you can use this tense.

e.g. I have taken my lunch.

Explanation: I could have taken it a minute ago or half an hour ago or some other time prior to this.

2 Present perfect tense also goes with prepositions ‘for’ and ‘since’.

e.g. I have lived here for five years.

I have lived here since five years ago.

I have lived here since 2003.

The following mistakes are often seen in students’ essays.

1 I have received your letter yesterday. (wrong)

I have received your letter already. (correct)

I received your letter yesterday.

2 I have finished the work before you come. (wrong)

I had finished the work before you came. (correct)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Another Example of Wrong Usage in English

I was browsing some shoes in a hypermarket when I noticed a paper box with the following label.

The phrase ‘at cheapest prices’ is wrong usage here. It should have been ‘at lowest prices’.

Some of my students make mistakes similar to the above example.

e.g. The price of the shirt that I bought was cheap. (Wrong)

There are two ways to correct the above sentence.

a) The price of the shirt that I bought was low.

b) The shirt that I bought was cheap.

Another adjective that is often wrongly used is ‘fast’.

e.g. The car is traveling at a fast speed.

The above sentence is wrong and can be rectified as follows:

a) The car is travelling at a high speed.

b) The car is traveling very fast.

Big Bang Record

You do not have to be tagged to play along. This game is simple and so are the rules.
1. Copy from *Start Copy Here* through *End Copy Here*
2. Add your site(s) to the list. Just be sure to post at each site you add.
3. Tag or don’t tag, your choice, however, the more tags you create the bigger the list will grow.
4. Let me know your blog’s name and url by leaving me a comment HERE. I will add you to the master list. (If you would like a scroll box code, leave me your email address and I will email it to you.) Scroll Box Example. (I decided not to use the box for the Big Bang for ease of copying.)
5. Come back and copy the master list back to your site, often. This process will allow late-comers to get as much link benefit as the first ones in. Once you are on the master list people who have participated earlier will update their bookmarks and help everyone lower than them out on the list.
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