Woe is I: Thirteen Business Cliches That You Should Never Use

Here is an excerpt from 250words.com on business cliches that you should never use and then book review on Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner.

Writing is an erratic drip, not a stream. It’s full of false starts and abrupt stops. It’s a clash between what we want to write and what we can write, perfectionism versus realism. In those moments of agony, when we might have the idea but not the language, great writers find the right words.

This weekend I read Woe is I by Patricia T. O’Conner. It is a charming, short book filled with grammar tips (omit needless words, avoid trendy locutions, use “unique” to signify “one of a kind” and not “unusual”). In one chapter—Death Sentence—O’Conner lists dozens of clichés that writers should avoid.

I’ve listed my 13 favorite clichés from Woe is I.

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Bottom line: Unless—and even if—you’re talking about finance, there’s probably a better way to say it.

Can’t see the forest for the trees: If you find yourself using this expression over and over again, you have a myopic imagination.

Cutting edge: It’s no longer sharp.

Foreseeable future: The future is not foreseeable. Anyone who knows otherwise should be in the commodities market.

It goes without saying: Then don’t say it.

Make a killing: The best thing to be said about this cliché is that it’s better than being taken to the cleaners. Don’t use either of them to excess.

Play hardball: This expression seems to have edged out no more Mr. Nice Guy. But it’s not as intimidating as it once was, so why not give it a rest?

Pushing the envelope: Isn’t it amazing how fast a new phrase gets old? Like A-OK, this one is starting to get quaint.

Seriously consider: This isn’t just hackneyed, it’s insincere. If someone tells you he’ll seriously consider your suggestion, he’s already kissed it off. That goes double if he has promised to give it active or due consideration.

Team player: When your boss says you should be more of a team player, that means she wants you to take on more of her work.

Trust implicitly: Never believe anybody who says you can trust him implicitly.

Up in the air: Let’s come up with a more down-to-earth way of saying this.

Viable alternative: Well, it beats the alternative that doesn’t work.

Full article by 250words.com

Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner

Woe is I – Description

In this new edition of Woe is I, Patricia T. O’Conner unties the knottiest grammar tangles and displays the same lively humor that has charmed and enlightened grateful readers for years. With new chapters on spelling and punctuation, and fresh insights into the rights, wrongs, and maybes of English grammar and usage, Woe is I offers down-to-earth explanations and plain-English solutions to the language mysteries that bedevil all of us:

  • Avoid the persistent (and persistently embarrassing) grammatical errors that bewilder the best and the brightest
  • Pronounce and spell words that even the smartest people mangle
  • Correctly use hundreds of woefully abused words and phrases

Woe is I – Review

Starred Review. Former New York Times Book Review editor and linguistic expert O’Conner (Words Fail Me, You Send Me) updates her bestselling guide to grammar, an invigorating and entertaining dissection of our ever-evolving language. In this third edition, O’Conner guides readers through conversational conundrums with aplomb, filling in not only the logic behind the appropriate choice for, say, possessives, but also explaining such oddities as the spelling of restaurateur (instead of a “restauranteur”), the proper pronunciation of prix fix (“pree feeks”) and a slew of mnemonic devices to help amateur grammarians keep ifs, ands and buts in check. It’s these small digressions that make Woe is I so readable, even for those with a deep-seated hatred for grammatical do-goodery. O’Conner gleefully eviscerates poor sentence construction and dangling participles, soothes verb tension and debunks the frequently intimidating semicolon with finesse. Tempered with a heavy dose of wit (reaching its nadir in her chapter on clichés), O’Conner’s lively treatise is as vital as a dictionary for those who wish to be taken seriously in speech, in print or on Facebook. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Patricia T. O’Conner, a former editor at the New York Times Book Review, has written for many magazines and newspapers. She is the author of two other books on language and writing, Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing and You Send Me: Getting It Right When You Write Online.