It is important to avoid redundancy, or unnecessary repetition, when we write. Redundancy can make writing overly wordy and often awkward. Read the following paragraph, and see if you can spot the ten examples of redundancy.
I woke up early because I had a meeting at 7 a.m. this morning. It is a good thing I live in close proximity to my office, so I didn’t have to leave too early. I stopped at Starbucks, which is in the immediate vicinity of where I work. I am missed if I don’t show up at a meeting, since the company is small in size. This meeting was about our latest project. We made a decision to collaborate together on it for the purpose of getting a variety of different ideas. The creativity of this company is the reason why I took the job. It is a great job, but at this point in time I haven’t gotten a raise as yet.
Did you find them? Here is the same paragraph with the redundancy eliminated.
I woke up early because I had a meeting at 7 a.m. It is a good thing I live close to my office, so I didn’t have to leave too early. I stopped at Starbucks, which is near where I work. I am missed if I don’t show up at a meeting, since the company is small. This meeting was about our latest project. We decided to collaborate on it to get a variety of ideas. The creativity of this company is the reason I took the job. It is a great job, but I haven’t gotten a raise yet.
Here are the redundancies that were in the first example:
1. 7 a.m. is the morning, so we don’t need to also write this morning.
2. Close proximity? Close is enough.
3. Immediate vicinity means near.
4. We know small refers to size, so we don’t need to use small in size.
5. Made a decision can be replaced by decided. This redundancy is called a “nominalization,” which means turning a verb into a noun, thus adding more words.
6. You cannot collaborate unless you work together, so together is redundant with collaborate.
7. Variety implies that the ideas will be different, so we don’t need both words.
8. We can use is the reason or we can use is why, but we don’t need to use is the reason why.
9. At this point in time is not necessary at all. You are obviously referring to the present.
10. You don’t need as yet. Yet is enough.
It is easy to let these redundancies slip into our writing. The best way to avoid them is to be familiar with them and proofread your work (or have someone else proofread it) to tighten it up.
Here are some other common redundancies and their “fixes.”
due to the fact that – because
I would appreciate it if you would – please
with regard to – about or regarding
completely unanimous – unanimous
each and every – each or every, not both
end result – result
exactly the same – the same
basic essentials – essentials
refer back – refer
personal opinion – opinion
summarize briefly – summarize
past history – history
very unique – unique
and also – and or also, but not both
filled to capacity – filled
difficult dilemma – dilemma (they are all difficult!)
final outcome – outcome
postpone until later – postpone
invited guests – guests (guests are generally invited)
plan ahead – plan
protest against – protest
repeat again – repeat
revert back – revert
spell out in detail – spell out
unexpected surprise – surprise
Yes, it is just another thing to think about when you write, but avoiding redundancy and unnecessary words will tighten up your writing and make your readers much happier!