Richard Nordquist: 200 Common Redundancies (I)

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200 Common Redundancies

By Richard Nordquist, Grammar & Composition Expert

One way to cut the clutter in our writing is to eliminate repetitious expressions. Because we so often see and hear redundancies (such as "free gifts" and "foreign imports"), they can be easy to overlook. Therefore, when editing our work, we should be on the lookout for needless repetition and be ready to eliminate expressions that add nothing to what has already been said.

Now does this mean that repetition must be avoided at all costs, or that good writers never repeat themselves? Certainly not. As discussed in Cohesion Strategies, careful repetition of key words and sentence structures can help establish clear connections in our writing. And inEffective Rhetorical Strategies of Repetition, we consider how writers may rely on repetition to emphasize or clarify a central idea.

Our concern here is with eliminating needlessrepetition--redundant expressions that make writing longer, not better. Following are some of the common redundancies. In certain contexts, some of these phrases may serve a purpose. More often, however, the phrases just weigh down our writing with unnecessary words. We can eliminate the needless repetition in each case by omitting the word or phrase in parentheses.


(absolutely) essential

(absolutely) necessary

(actual) facts

advance (forward)

(advance) planning

(advance) preview

(advance) reservations

(advance) warning

add (an additional)

add (up)

(added) bonus

(affirmative) yes

(aid and) abet

(all-time) record

alternative (choice)

A.M. (in the morning)

(and) etc.

(anonymous) stranger

(annual) anniversary

(armed) gunman

(artificial) prosthesis

ascend (up)

ask (the question)

assemble (together)

attach (together)

ATM (machine)

autobiography (of his or her own life)

(continued in next chapter)

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