Rules for Writing

People ask me all the time, "Matt, how can I write longer sentences," or "Matt, I want to use bigger words."  Then I ask them, "Why?"  You don’t write to impress other people with big sentences, or big words.  You...

Idiom: mom and pop

Definition: really small, family-owned, family-style, not corporate (it is an adjective) Examples: When I was a child, I lived in a small town. The only grocery store was a small mom-and-pop store. I never saw a large hypermarket until I was older. When he started...

Idiom: by hook or by crook

Definition: to accomplish something using any method available, especially creative or unusual methods Examples: We have no money left in the training budget, but this course is important. We will sponsor the training, whatever it takes. We will do it by hook or by...

Idiom: to play fast and loose

Definition: to act with no long-term plan, and break the rules, without thinking about ethics Examples: Enron was a fast-growing energy company in the USA, but they played fast and loose with their financial reporting. When the fraud was discovered, the company...

Idiom: to work out the kinks

Definition: to solve small problems, usually in a larger process Examples: Don’t worry about the small stuff yet. Let’s focus on the big picture, and we’ll work out the kinks later. Before you introduce a new product, be sure to work out the kinks....

Idiom: to beat a dead horse

Definition: to belabor a point; to insist on talking about something that cannot be changed Examples: My boss hated my idea, and he said “no” quickly. But I continued to argue with him, and push my idea. I finally stopped, because I was wasting my breath....

Idiom: to go through the roof

Definition: to grow rapidly, unexpectedly, excessively Examples: The new product was a really popular, worldwide hit. Our company’s sales went through the roof. This year, oil prices have gone up really high. Last year we thought they were already high, but now...

Idiom: to hit the roof

Definition: to be very surprised and angry, shocked Examples: Last month’s sales numbers are terrible. When the CEO sees these numbers, he is going to hit the roof. I didn’t expect the hotel bill to be so expensive. When I saw it, I just about hit the...

Idiom: when pigs fly

Definition: never, not a chance Examples: The company I work for is very tight with money. I asked for a raise, and my boss laughed and said, “When pigs fly!” I want to manage the sales department. However, my performance is not good, and no one likes me....