Different has been on this ruthless editor’s grammar radar for some time. Its use might be simply a bad habit, but I’ve heard it enough lately to prompt me to write a post about how redundant it can be.
What is a redundant word? It’s one that doesn’t add meaning to what is being said or written. Here are select redundancies from a previous post:
And here’s why using different is a bad habit I wish people could break.
Consider these phrases:
Contestants must meet three different criteria.
You’ll find 288 different languages in Wikipedia.
They painted their house trim four different colors.
Consumers can pay for products with 70 different currencies.
If different did not appear in these statements, would you assume the three criteria, the 288 languages, the four colors or the 70 currencies were the same? Of course not. Each statement is perfectly clear without cluttering it with different:
Contestants must meet three criteria.
You’ll find 288 languages in Wikipedia.
They painted their house trim four colors.
Consumers can pay for products with 70 currencies.
While I have your attention, here’s another redundancy I often see:
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Each statement would be perfectly clear without any:
Do you have questions?
Please contact me if you have questions.
Our customer service team will be happy to answer your questions.
Good writing is clear, concise and grammatically correct. Respect your readers by reducing redundancies.
Here are 200 common redundancies; different is on the list, but any is not.
Are there redundancies that drive you up the wall? Please share them in the comments section.
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