Redundancies Make Me Want To Scream!

screaming_womanDo you have days when what should be minor irritations really get on your nerves?

So do I.

Are you sometimes so bombarded by messages from every source — human and electronic — that you’re on constant overload?

So am I.

With the amount of communication we all need to process daily, we owe it to each other to make our messages concise. That means avoiding redundancies.

Reminder: To see if a word might be redundant, question whether it is necessary for the reader to understand your message:

She had a choice of traveling to five different (versus the same?) countries.
The attorney declined to make a comment about his client’s past (versus future?) legal history.
Donald Trump tweets out (versus tweets in?) new policy toward Cuba.
You’ve heard the old (versus new?) adage “You get what you pay for.”

Here’s a batch of redundancies that I’ll bet you hear or see as often as I do.

If you have any questions, please call me.

I’m currently out of my office.

These are photos of actual patients.

She had a choice of traveling to five different countries.

The concept can be traced back to Freud’s original work.

Don’t slouch down in your chair during an interview.

What’s the reason why all of this has come to light?

If you want to close out of an app, pinch the screen with four fingers.

Officials had to close the wildlife refuge down.

The attorney declined to make a comment about his client’s past legal history.

Some counties never sent out letters to voters.

Life in America requires a lot of advance preparation.

Thank you for writing in.

Donald Trump tweets out new policy toward Cuba.

Lucy keeps snatching the football away.

Previous experience required.

Humidity will almost always cause your hair to revert back to its natural state.

He described a hidden-away facility where senators exercise.

The winter weather advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. this evening.

The eye doctor owns his own ophthalmology practice.
Try: The eye doctor has his own practice.

This also works on iPads as well.
Delete either also or as well.

Here are a few examples with definitions:

The helicopter is submerged under 50 feet of water.
submerged: under water
Try: The helicopter is submerged in 50 feet of water.

Please attend next week’s educational seminar.
seminar: a conference or other meeting for discussion or training

You’ve heard the old adage “You get what you pay for.”
adage: an old saying that is popular and accepted as truth

You pour out your heart and soul, but sometimes that feels like shouting your words down a bottomless abyss.
abyss: a deep or seemingly bottomless chasm

They have fused together social traditionalism with populist economics.
fused: join or blend to form a single entity

David Bowie leaves behind many legacies.
legacy: money or personal property left to someone in a will

The new pub unites your favorite restaurant and bar together with elements of quality food in a comfortable bar environment.
unite: come or bring together


Resist falling into the redundancy habit. You’ll earn the appreciation and respect of your friends and colleagues, and you’ll make other observant listeners and readers — as well as fellow grammar enthusiasts and this Ruthless Editor — happy.

What redundancies have you heard today? This week?

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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)