Cliches are overused expressions, expressions that may once have seemed colorful and powerful, but are now dull and worn out. Time, pressure and anxiety may make you lose focus, and that is when cliches may slip into your writing. A reliance on cliches will suggest you are a lazy thinker. Keep them out of your essay by thinking ahead and proofreading.

WEAK: Performance in a crisis is the acid test for a leader.

FORCEFUL: Performance in a crisis is the best indicator of a leader’s abilities.

Putting a cliche in quotation marks in order to indicate your distance from the cliche does not strengthen the sentence. If anything, it just makes weak writing more noticeable. Take notice of whether or not you use cliches. If you do, ask yourself if you could substitute more specific language for the cliche.

International Students: You should avoid any regional expressions. Students from Britain and the commonwealth nations should particularly beware of using local expressions that are not used in America.

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