How to Spot Redundancies

I have a thing about redundancies.

They are a grammar pet peeve I’ve blogged about before, but the world apparently hasn’t gotten my message.

I’m not giving up, darn it!

A redundant word is one that could be omitted without loss of meaning; it repeats something already written or said.

We are in communication mode day in, day out. The least we can do in our word-dense world is to avoid extra words that add neither meaning nor clarity to our messages.

My guideline for spotting a redundancy:
Consider what using its opposite would do to the sentence.

Here are my latest real-world examples. The second sentence of each will help you spot the redundancy in the first that should be omitted.

Let’s assemble the groups of people together.
Let’s assemble the groups of people apart.

 

He used that old adage to drive home his message.
He used that new adage to drive home his message.

 

He will stay to serve out the rest of his second term
.
He will stay to serve in the rest of his second term.

 

It is where all of the good and bad ideas get tested out first.
It is where all of the good and bad ideas get tested in first.

 

The injured sailor returned back to Britain.
The injured sailor returned ahead to Britain.

 

 

Before one takes it on, one must study it first.
Before one takes it on, one must study it last.

 

The murder splintered the family apart.
The murder splintered the family together.

 

I’m looking forward to all the new projects ahead.
I’m looking forward to all the new projects behind.

 

This rollout will start in California first.
This rollout will start in California last.

Let’s vow to raise our awareness of redundancies and do out best to avoid them. Check your emails, your reports for work, your tweets, your blogs, your LinkedIn posts, your class assignments or your résumé. Redundancies are inappropriate and do not reflect well on the writer — or the speaker.

I’ll bet you can think of someone who would appreciate or enjoy — or who needs to see — this post. Please share!

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)

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