Common Redundant Phrases and How to Avoid Them

In today’s post about common redundant phrases and how to avoid them, we focus on improving our writing by being aware of redundancies. A redundancy is where in a sentence, we say the same thing twice using a different word or phrase that means the same thing.

There are different types of redundancies. For example, tautology is saying the same thing twice using different words or phrases, e.g. they climbed up the mountainclimb the mountain is sufficient. Pleonasm uses more words than necessary to convey our meaning, for example, to nod my head, to hear with your earsto nod and to hear are sufficient.

We use these so often that we are often unaware we are doing so. By reducing redundancies, we can make our writing (or speech) more succinct.

photo of windows in apartment block for blog common redundant phrases and how to avoid them
Common redundant phrases and how to avoid them

Examples of common redundant phrases and how to avoid them

The best way to become aware of the redundancies we might be using in our writing is by looking at a bunch of common examples. Here we go.

Each or every

Example: Each and every day, they met in the park.

The use of every conveys how often they meet, so each can be removed. Every day, they met in the park.

The result

Example: What was the end result?

Result means the outcome, so using end is superfluous. What was the result?

I’m certain

Example: She was absolutely certain she’d found the right person.

Certain implies there’s no doubt, so absolutely isn’t needed. She was certain she’d found the right person.

What a surprise

Example: It was an unexpected surprise.

A surprise is unexpected, therefore unexpected is unnecessary.  It was a surprise or It was unexpected.

On impulse

Example: The woman had a sudden impulse to run.

An impulse is sudden, so sudden can be omitted. The woman had an impulse to run.

To capacity

Example: The building was filled to capacity.

Capacity means that something is filled to the maximum, so filled isn’t needed. The building was at capacity.

Morning or am

Example: Meet me at the park at 9 am this morning today.

9 am means the morning, so this morning can be omitted. Meet me at the park at 9 am or Meet me in the morning at 9.

An estimate

Example: He roughly estimated the amount.

Estimated means that something’s roughly calculated, so roughly is redundant. He estimated the amount.

Let’s collaborate

Example: The boss wanted them to collaborate together.

Collaborate means to work together, so together can be removed. The boss wanted them to collaborate.

The present

Example: At the present time, there’s not a lot to be discussed.

Present implies this particular moment, so time isn’t needed. At present, there’s not a lot to be discussed.

No out needed

Example: The trees protruded out over the lake.

Protruded means that something extends beyond or rises above the surface, so using out is redundant. The trees protruded over the lake.

It’s in the past

Example: She looked into her family’s past history.

History means something in the past, so using past is redundant. She looked into her family’s history.

It’s free

Example: They were giving out free gifts.

Gifts are given without the receiver paying, so free can be omitted. They were giving out gifts.

Forever

Example: He told her that he’d love her forever and always.

Forever implies always, so using only one of the words will convey the same idea. He told her that he’d love her forever or He told her that he’d always love her.

The beginning

Example: When the movie first began, no one was paying attention.

Began implies the beginning of something, so using first is redundant and can be omitted. When the movie began, no one was paying attention.

Routines are regular

Example: Before starting work, he carried out his regular routine.

A routine is to do something regularly, making regular unnecessary. Before starting work, he carried out his routine.

Something new

Example: The car was a new innovation.

An innovation is a new idea or product, so using new is redundant. The car was innovative.

Summaries are short

Example: Before the professor started the lecture, she gave a short summary.

A summary is a condensed version of the main points, so using short isn’t necessary. Before the professor started the lecture, she gave a summary.

RSVP

Example: Please R.S.V.P. by the end of the month.

This is a little trickier, but to be entirely correct, because R.S.V.P. comes from the French ‘répondez s’il vous plait’ meaning ‘please respond’, please can be omitted. R.S.V.P. by the end of the month.

Sit closer

Example: They sat in close proximity.

Proximity implies nearness, so using the word close is redundant. The two words can be used interchangeably though. They sat in proximity or They sat close together.

I think

Example: In her opinion, she thought the teacher was wrong.

An opinion is someone’s thoughts and beliefs, so to use she thought is redundant. In her opinion, the teacher was wrong.

A bonus

Example: The free lunch was an added bonus.

Bonus means that something is an addition, so the use of added is superfluous. The free lunch was a bonus.


The examples given above can apply to all types of writing, as well as to speech. Next time you’re writing, be more aware of these common redundant phrases and try not to use them. Your writing will be more powerful and engaging because of the extra effort you put into it.

Acknowledgements

Fun with Words 2020, Redundant Phrases, viewed 29 August, 2020,
http://www.fun-with-words.com/redundant_phrases.html

Nichol, M 2011, 50 Redundant Phrases to Avoid, viewed 29 August 2020, https://www.dailywritingtips.com/50-redundant-phrases-to-avoid

Wikipedia 2020, Tautology (Linguistics), viewed 4 September 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautology_(language)

WikiDiff 2020, Redundant vs Tautology – What’s the difference?, viewed 4 September 2020, https://wikidiff.com/redundant/tautology

Wright, C 2020, Are you using these 6 common tautologies?, viewed 3 September 2020, https://blog.lingoda.com/en/six-common-tautologies

Your Dictionary 2014, Examples of Tautology, viewed 3 September 2020,  https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-tautology.html


Many thanks to Hannah Daylight, my current intern from the University of the Sunshine Coast, for preparing this blog.

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