Through careful examination of our first drafts, we writers must keep alert for redundancies. Redundancies are words that serve no useful purpose toward sentence clarity. They can be repetitive or just hangers on like wedding cans on a bride and groom’s getaway car. They clutter our prose and can bore/irritate our readers. Whenever we spot them, delete them to strengthen our sentences.
EXAMPLES OF REDUNDANCIES
Jane pedaled all the way to town on her bicycle.
If Jane pedaled to town, then all the way is understood, and thus it’s redundant.
Both Joe and Bill will go fishing tomorrow.
The word both isn’t needed because it’s understood.
So, as you revise, ask yourself this: Does each sentence I wrote need every word I used? Can I get rid of some words or phrases without affecting my sentences’ meanings? If you have such words or phrases, get rid of them. Here are a few to watch out for, though the list of redundant words is huge.
- Add up
Let me add
up the price and I’ll give you the cost of the groceries.
(Why is up needed for greater sentence clarity? I cannot think of a reason.)
- Ask a question
I want to ask everyone
a question about that tractor.
(What else does a person ask besides a question?)
Actually, it’s true the dog bit my sister.
(It’s either true or not true, so actually isn’t needed.)
- Follow after
after Joe in the lineup.
(If Jim follows, then after is understood.)
- Past experience
Past experience proved to John that he couldn’t dance.
(If experience proved something to John, then past is understood.)
- Very old
My grandfather lived to be a
very old man.
(This word very, in numerous cases, isn’t needed. Either my grandfather was old or he wasn’t, no very about it.)
Two Internet Sites
Many internet sites have lists of redundant words. Here’s two of them.
Redundancies 101: 400+ Redundant Words to Avoid in Writing (kathysteinemann.com)
Tautology and Pleonasm
Definition: Needlessly repeating what’s already been said.
He is his own worst enemy.
He is his worst enemy.
She is my personal assistant.
She is my assistant.
He gave a brief glance at the newspaper.
He glanced at the newspaper.
Definition: Words in a sentence that don’t contribute to its meaning.
Based on the fact that I grew up on the coast, hurricanes don’t frighten me.
Because I grew up on the coast, hurricanes don’t frighten me.
In my opinion, I think my high school team won’t have a good season this year.
I think my high school won’t have a good season this year.
Watch out for redundancies in your revisions. They often sneak up on writers, especially in first drafts
4 thoughts on “Cut the Clutter: Redundancies”
My favorite redundancy comes from a hot day in the Upper Peninsula. “You perspiring, Sven?” “Yah. Und sveating, too.”
On Mon, Aug 2, 2021 at 9:40 AM The Author’s Cove: John Jack Cunningham
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Excellent post on redundancies, Jack.
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Thank you, Pat!