How to Improve Your Writing by Avoiding Redundant Expressions

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What is a redundant expression?

A redundant expression, or tautology, is an expression in which a word or group of words is unnecessary because it repeats something that has already been expressed by another word.

For example:

  • This envelope contains important documents inside.

While at first it might seem like there is nothing wrong with this sentence, if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that the word inside is redundant. This is because the word contains already indicates that the envelope holds documents within it.

Why is it important to be aware of redundant expressions when writing?

If your writing contains redundant expressions, a reader might think that you do not fully understand the meaning of the words you are using or that you are choosing them sloppily. While it might be tempting to use a longer or more unusual word because it might make you seem more knowledgeable about a subject, your writing will have quite the opposite effect if you don’t use the word correctly.

We recommend always looking up a word in the dictionary if you are unsure of what it means and to remove it from your writing if it means the same thing as another word you have already used. Don’t forget, it is always better to use fewer words and make your point clearly than it is to use more and make it convolutedly.

What are some examples of redundant expressions?

One way of forming a redundant expression is by using two or more words with the same meaning.

For example:

  • The reason for the flooding is because of the heavy rain.

The words reason and because are doing the same work within the sentence, so only one is required. Better sentences would be:

The reason for the flooding is the heavy rain.

It flooded because of the heavy rain.

Another type of redundant expression is using an adjective that repeats the meaning of the word it is describing.

For example:

  • His pay check came with an added bonus.

Since the word bonus means ‘something extra’, the word added is superfluous. A better sentence would be:

His pay check came with a bonus.

  • They came to a definite decision.

The word decision refers to a plan that is finalised, so definite is not needed in this sentence. A better sentence is:

They came to a decision.

If the verb being described contains the same information that an adverb would add, leave it alone!

For example:

  • The managers decided to merge together two teams.

The word merge indicates that two things are being brought together, making the adverb in this sentence unnecessary. A better sentence would be.

The managers decided to merge two teams.

  • The teacher decided to revert back to her old method.

Revert describes the act of moving back to something. This means the adverb back is redundant. A better sentence would be:

  • The teacher decided to revert to her old method.

We’ll share more tips to help you improve your writing in future blog posts. Have a good week!

16 Nov 2017
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