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Avoiding Clichés

Identify and Revise Clichés

Avoiding Clichés

“When an expression is overused to the point of becoming meaningless, it is known as a cliché,” Mr. Espinosa explained. “A cliché doesn’t show originality.”

“Why should we listen to Mr. Espinosa? Sam whispered. “He’s as old as the hills. It’s just a matter of time before he retires.”

“Maybe he’s still got something to teach you about clichés,” Arianna whispered back.

Definition and Examples

A cliché is an overused and worn-out word, phrase, or sentence, which has lost its original meaning or effect. A cliché can have a literal or a figurative meaning. Examples: awesome; plenty of fish in the sea; what goes around, comes around

Speakers often use clichés as conversational fillers to generalize or draw a conclusion.

Examples:

“Putting together that toy is challenging, but it’s not rocket science,” she said.

“Yes, but at the end of the day, those little challenges help us think outside the box,” he replied.

Read the rule.

Don’t use clichés in formal writing, such as essays. Instead of clichés, use original thoughts and more specific language. Some writers intentionally use a cliché, but revise the wording to provide an original idea.

Practice

Write these sentences and [bracket] the clichés.

  1. Those two a certainly a strange pair. Who knows what he sees in her. Love is blind.
  2. You’re never going to make them accept you. You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
  3. She’s a bad apple and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her parents have issues, as well.
  4. For Matt the grass is always greener on the other side, but experience is the best teacher.
  5. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I’ll make an exception.

Revise the the clichés in the following sentence.

In this day and age, using clichés is not a necessary evil.

Answers

  1. Those two a certainly a strange pair. Who knows [what he sees in her]. [Love is blind].
  2. You’re never going to make them accept you. [You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time].
  3. She’s [a bad apple] and [the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree]. Her parents have issues, as well.
  4. For Matt [the grass is always greener on the other side], but [experience is the best teacher].
  5. [You can’t judge a book by its cover], but in this case, I’ll make an exception.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

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