Monday, July 13, 2009


What’s wrong with this sentence?

“At the end of the day, the numbers speak for themselves.” (I actually heard this on the radio recently).

This sentence is an attempt to illustrate what happens when you write using clichés.

A cliché is an overused expression or idea, one that, over time, has lost its meaning or strength. When you write using a cliché, your meaning is often unclear, your writing can seem trivial and the cliché, though overused, may not be fully understood by your reader. Clichés are neither formal nor specific enough for scholarly writing.

Other common clichés include:
Perfect storm
Day in and day out
Hour of need
The real deal
Short and sweet
Off the beaten track
A matter of life and death
A dog’s life
No such thing as a free lunch
With all due respect
Beyond the pale
The light at the end of the tunnel
Stand on your own two feet
Bone of contention

So, how to fix the sentence above, that is:
“At the end of the day, the numbers speak for themselves.”

I would try to substitute clear, formal and accurate statements that contain evidence for the two clichés. Here are a few examples:

The result of the program was a 22% decrease in feelings of depression and isolation in nursing home residents (site your source here!!!)
Evidence suggests that the policy change resulted in improved nutritional status for school lunch program participants versus non-participants (again cite your source!!!)

Final program evaluation showed no decline in teen sexual activity in program participants versus controls (again cite your source!!!)

Keep writing!


  1. I guess I don't use as many cliches as I thought. Of the fourteen given, maybe one is used when writing, and probably three are used in conversation. I will think of this blog the next time I utter or write a cliche. :)
    Ps.How do you get the mark over the e in cliche?

  2. I type in MS word first,then cut and paste into the blog, and it does the accent mark for me!