Welcome back to this week’s installment of GMAT 4-1-1, in which we’ll cover a list of the 700 idioms that you simply must memorize if you want to score 700 or better on the GMAT exam. As English is universally considered as the most important language in all of the business world – after all, that’s all we know here in the U.S.! – it is crucial for anyone interested in even trace levels of business success to have fully mastered the idiomatic subtleties of the nuanced English language. Particularly for those going into marketing, regional and demographic segmentation dictates that one must be up to speed, also, on regional dialects and colloquialisms.
Accordingly, if you want to score well enough on the GMAT to attend a reputable business school, you must know these idioms cold:
- While “cold” is typically used to express temperature, knowing something “cold” means that you know it well. EXAMPLE: The Good Humor man knows his ice cream flavors cold.
- When speaking to a woman about her handbag, if the woman is from New England or New York, east of the Hudson River, or Northern New Jersey, you should use the term “pocketbook”. If the woman is from the Chesapeake region or southward, or west of the Hudson River toward the greater Midwest, you should refer to it as a “purse”. If the woman resides in Beverly Hills or Bel Air in California, you must only refer to it by brand name. EXAMPLE: Minka Kelly, girlfriend of New York Yankee Derek Jeter, keeps Tic-Tac breath mints in her pocketbook, but Oprah Winfrey prefers to keep Certs in her purse. Kim Kardashian carries nothing in her Prada; it is merely for show.
- Nautically speaking, one should never use the indefinite article “a” to describe a seabound vessel that originates in Canada; this is to avoid confusion between the term “a boat” with the Canadian pronunciation of the word “about”. If referring to a ship in Canadian waters, you should either use the term “ship” or the definite article “the” to avoid confusion. EXAMPLE: The boat capsized off the coast of Nova Scotia. NOT: I’m talking about (a-boat) a boat that capsized off the coast of Nova Scotia. EDITOR’S NOTE: This can be confusing when speaking of vessels in boundary waters like Lake Superior. General rule of thumb: exercise caution!
- If talking about magic, it is always preferable to use the word “illusion” in place of “trick”. Ladies of the night turn tricks; magicians perform illusions.
- Adult males are only allowed to use the abbreviation “OMG” when being ironic. EXAMPLE: OMG – I can’t believe that douchebag Phil just texted me “OMG”!
- The most notable exception to the GMAT’s ironclad “pronouns must have clear antecedents” rule takes place when one capitalizes the word “He” within 25 miles of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. In this event, “He” is known by local custom to refer to Drew Brees. On the eastern shores of the lake, however, this pronoun-exemption zone (PEZ) is reduced to 12 miles to account for the fact that, in Mississippi, Brett Favre feels that the capitalized “He” should refer to him. EXAMPLE: Jim from Covington here – first time caller long time listener. He is just a better quarterback than Favre. Geaux Saints!
- When speaking to a female of equal or lesser social status about her new hairdo, it is permissible to mix verb tenses; if the woman is of a higher social status, this informality shall not be tolerated. EXAMPLE: Hey, girl, looks like you just got your hair did! NOT: Senator Clinton, damn what they do to your hair?
- Pork roll is a sausage-like meat that is sliced, fried, and served in a sandwich. Sometimes it is served on bread with cheese, and sometimes even with a fried egg. It is primarily available in New Jersey.
- Thou shalt not use the word “shalt” unless quoting or directly referring to the Bible.
- When creating smiley faces or other emoticons out of punctuation, you should always place said emoticon outside of existing punctuation to avoid conclusion. EXAMPLE: I won’t tell anyone that you like Phil Collins. :-) NOT: I won’t tell anyone that you like Phil Collins :-). What, is that smiley face drooling? Is that a beauty mark?
- In the United States, someone who gets paid to watch children is a babysitter. In the United Kingdom, this person is normally referred to as a baby minder. Under no circumstances should you confuse the two. In the U.S., a baby minder is someone who minds that another person brought their baby to lunch at Applebee’s. They can’t understand why a baby would cry when she can in fact eat Riblets and bottomless fries all day long.
- If you believe that the child of a conservative family might read what you write, do not use symbols that directly mirror letters when using symbols to indicate cursing. EXAMPLE: “I’ll kick your @$$” is still wholly inappropriate for most children.
- While referring to a large sandwich, the standard term is “submarine sandwich”, but the following regional terms are preferred. In eastern Pennsylvania, it should be called a hoagie. In New England and California’s Inland Empire it should be called a grinder. In parts of New York City it may be referred to as a hero. Within 20 miles of Williamsport, Pennsylvania (home of the Little League World Series) it must be called a cosmo. EXAMPLE: I just tried the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki cosmo over at Subway. (Reply): Oh, were you there for the Little League World Series?
- American white people are never permitted to add the suffix “-izzle” to words in an effort to look cool. That never ends well.
- The verb “to ensue” only has two uses. When used in the present-tense as a modifier – “ensuing” – it must be used by a sportscaster to describe the turn of events after a football score, referring to “the ensuing kickoff”. When used in the indicative tense – “ensues” – it must only be used by a comic screenwriter in a pitch to a studio, as in “hilarity ensues”. EXAMPLE: The movie starts when Jackie Chan’s character picks up a hitchhiker played by Chris Tucker, and they drive around the countryside looking for a gas station. Hilarity ensues. NOTE: When used in the infinitive tense as an abbreviation – “to N. Suh” – this is a colloquialism that refers to football defensive tackles hoping to excel in their position; the abbreviation is used because it’s quite difficult to spell “Ndomukong”.
- In matters relating to motor vehicles, when discussing circular intersection in which all traffic travels in the same direction around a central island, you may be referring to a traffic circle, a roundabout, or a rotary. Note that, unlike with other phrases, geography has little to do with which phrase is used in a specific town. You will, however, be made to feel humiliated and ashamed if you use the wrong term, particularly while riding shotgun. If you are driving a brown 1988 Dodge Daytona, you are permitted to drive against oncoming traffic in a traffic circle and in a roundabout, but not in a rotary. And, this tip may singlehandedly boost your GMAT score by 10 points: While traversing the Lambeth Bridge roundabout in London, you may be required to say, “Big Ben! Parliament!” upon each completion of 360 degrees of travel.
- While, normally, it is required to add apostrophe-s (‘s) to a noun in order to make that word possessive, in the American Midwest any business named after a person can-and-should be spoken with an s added at the end to imply familiarity with the business owner. EXAMPLE: My dad, who works at Fords, bought me a sandwich at Krogers.
- One should only begin a sentence with the contradictory, introductory phrase “yeah, no” if his goal is to ensure that coworkers view him as completely incompetent. EXAMPLE: “Yeah, no, well, I don’t know but I think maybe Jeff is right.”
- This may fall more under the realm of essential vocabulary to know, but Sledge-O-Matic refers to a large wooden mallet that comedians use to smash assorted objects, most notably watermelons. At least two performers have been known to use this device: Leo Gallagher, better known simply as “Gallagher,” and Ron Gallagher (Leo’s brother), who toured as “Gallagher Too.” Leo sued Ron in 2000, and an injunction was granted prohibiting Ron from looking or acting too much like Leo.
- The term “bromance” can only be used ironically in reference to two males who would not logically be in an actual romance with each other. EXAMPLE: Matthew McConaughey and Lance Armstrong have endured a long-lasting bromance. NOT: It has been rumored around Hollywood that Ryan Seacrest has been hiding a secret bromance with JC Chasez.
- Passe phrases like “getting jiggy with it” or “far out, man” must obviously be accompanied by the past tense, as no one in their right mind would use them today.
- Cleverly ending a word with a Z instead of an S (e.g. “I’ve got skillz”) either indicates that one is way, way cooler than his peers, provided the person in question is aged 13 or under, or infinitely less cool if that person is 14 or older. Doing so one someone’s 14th birthday card is certain to elicit a confused reaction.
- Non-native speakers and those from the flyover states can often be confused between the distinctly different terms “bro” and “brah”. A “bro” is typically someone from a fraternity, known to wear white baseball caps featuring the nicknames of either Oregon State University or the University of South Carolina, khakis, and Polo shirts with the collars popped; “bro” can also be used to describe anyone of any gender provided the speaker is a cast member of “Jersey Shore”. A “brah” is a native Californian who surfs on the reg, chills the most, and cannot be bothered to completely finish articulating one-syllable words. SENTENCE CORRECTION EXAMPLE OF A WRONG ANSWER: My buddy introduced me to his brah, who had an in at the bar because he is social chair at SigEp. CORRECTED: My buddy introduced me to his bro, who had an in at the bar because he is social chair at SigEp.
- Brand names should always be capitalized, but if one orders a “Coke” in the American south the term should not be capitalized unless it is known for certain that the beverage is a Coca-Cola brand coke. In the American south, “coke” is the preferred term for a carbonated soft drink; on the New York and California coasts, “soda” is used, and in the American midwest, “pop” is the preferred term. A 2006 demographic survey of these terms found that residents of several counties in New Mexico use “other”; however, since virtually no one knows anyone who lives in New Mexico, no one knows which term they use…
- Acronyms that include a plural noun before the final word should inexplicably feature an S at the end of the entire acronym and not where the plurality actually takes place. EXAMPLE: “Runs batted in” should be abbreviated “RBIs”, not “RsBI” or even just “RBI”. Because we’re breaking all kinds of rules here, we might as well use an unwarranted apostrophe and call them RBI’s because, you know, whatever at this point.
Stay tuned…”Must Memorize” Idioms 26-700 are on the way…