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Ten Redundant Expressions You Should Stop Using


Last week we looked at redundant expressions and why you should cut them from your writing. Here ten examples:

  1. I am absolutely certain that the train is at 3pm.

    Since ‘certain’ means ‘established beyond doubt or question’, the word ‘absolutely’ is redundant. A better sentence would be:
    I am certain that the train is at 3pm.

  2. They should have given us advanced warning that the road would be closed.

    A ‘warning’ is usually given ahead of time, so the word ‘advanced’ is unnecessary. Better sentences would be:

    They should have given us warning that the road would be closed.
    They should have warned us that the road would be closed.


  3. We are not hiring at the present time.

    ‘At present’ means ‘at this time’ so you only need to use one or the other. Better sentences would be:

    We are not hiring at this time.
    We are not hiring at the present.
    We are not hiring at the moment.


  4. They focused on the basic essentials before moving onto more complicated tasks.

    If someone is talking about ‘the essentials’, they mean the most ‘basic’ or ‘fundamental’ information or tasks associated with a subject or activity. The word ‘basic’ is redundant. A better sentence would be:

    They focused on the essentials before moving onto more complicated tasks.

  5. Their behaviour was under close scrutiny.

    ‘Scrutiny’ describes the act of ‘examining something closely’. Writing ‘close scrutiny’ means you are repeating the same idea twice. A better sentence would be:

    Their behaviour was under scrutiny.

  6. There are new laws concerning taxation on foreign imports.

    If you ‘import’ something, you are bringing it in from another country. This means that the word ‘foreign’ is redundant. Better sentences would be:

    There are new laws concerning taxation on imports.
    There are new laws concerning taxation on imported goods.


  7. As a rough estimate, I would guess we receive five hundred emails a week.

    'Guess' and ‘estimate’ mean the same thing: a ‘rough’ or ‘tentative’ judgment. You only need to use one or the other and you shouldn’t use either in combination with ‘rough’. Better sentences would be:

    At a guess, I’d say we receive five hundred emails a week.
    We receive an estimated five hundred emails a week.
    We receive roughly five hundred emails a week.
    I estimate we receive five hundred emails a week.


  8. We are about to make a major breakthrough.

    A ‘breakthrough’ is an ‘important discovery’ so the word ‘major’ is redundant. A better sentence would be:

    We’re about to make a breakthrough.

  9. She wished she’d planned ahead for the possibility of rain.

    ‘Planning’ is the act of ‘arranging to do something in advance’ so the word ‘ahead’ doesn’t add any extra information to the sentence. A better sentence would be:

    She wished she’d planned for the possibility of rain.

  10. The meeting has been postponed until a later time.

    Like with ‘ahead’ in the previous example, ‘a later time’ doesn’t add any new information to this sentence because ‘postpone’ means ‘schedule for later’. A better sentence would be:

    The meeting has been postponed.

22 Nov 2017
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