Sometimes people tend to clutter up their writing with unnecessary words of phrases. Redundancy is often use to help pad out writing and make it seem longer than it really is, but instead of helping it just makes the writing difficult to read. Good writing is concise and informative. If you want to learn more about writing properly and how to avoid redundancy, then check out the Udemy course Quality Paragraph and Essay Writing.
You may have read something in a book or a paper in class and have noticed that the sentence is a bit too long. For example, you may have read a sentence that had something along the lines of, “The heat’s coming from the hot stove.” The sentence is already stating that there is heat coming from the stove so there is no reason for the person to restate that the stove is hot. This is an example of redundancy, and it is found in various forms of writing and speeches.
When something is redundant it means that it is excessive, unnecessary, or superfluous. Redundancy usually involves repeating something or adding in information that is completely unnecessary. A good way to test whether or not something is redundant is to see if the phrase in question could have something removed from it.
Not all usages of redundancy are bad. In fact, there are many instances where redundancy is considered to be okay, such as when a person is using it for emphasis. In most occasions though, especially when a person is being redundant without realizing it, it’s bad.
Common Examples of Redundancy
The example showed before is just one example, but there are dozens of redundant phrases that people use constantly without realizing. Below you will see some redundant phrases and why they are repetitive.
Advance warning or notice – To notify someone or warn them is already telling them something before the event occurs. It is redundant to attach the word advance.
- Actual fact – A fact is by definition something that has already been confirmed to have happened.
- Forever and ever – Ever is completely unnecessary as it just serves as a duplicate of forever.
- Major breakthrough – A breakthrough is already major and significant. There is no reason to say that it is major.
- 9:00 a.m. in the morning or 9:00 p.m. in the evening – People commonly say the time, then add a.m. or p.m. and then add in the morning or evening to the phrase. Again this is redundant due to the fact that a.m. and p.m. already informs the reader.
- Past history – By definition, history is someone’s past. Saying that a person “checked your past history” or “Look into his past record” is redundant since these things have already happened and are by definition an occurrence in the past.
- Plan ahead – When a person makes a plan, they are already preparing for the future. There is no reason to add ahead after you tell someone to plan.
- Postpone until later – To postpone something already means to reschedule it at a later time. The “until later” part of the phrase is unneeded. A good remedy for this phrase would be “Postpone until tomorrow morning” or something else that is more specific than later.
- Unexpected surprise – By definition a surprise is going to be unexpected. No one expects a surprise.
- Unintentional mistake – When someone makes a mistake it is already unintentional. Unintentional is unnecessary. Another common way people use this form of redundancy is with the phrase accidental mistake.
- Written down – You may have heard the phrase “Write this down” or “It’s written down”, but when something is written it has been taken down. There is no need for you to add the word down to it.
- Still remains – “Yet she still remains” this phrase is redundant because remains means that something is still there. Still doesn’t add anything to the sentence.
These are just a few samples of redundancy, but there are many more out there. It can be difficult to avoid writing redundant phrases, especially when your work goes unchecked or unedited, such as when you’re writing a blog. If you want to improve the way you write for your personal site then try the Udemy course The Blog Writing Workshop.
How to Identify Redundancy in Your Own Writing
Even though you understand redundancy, you may still have some problems identifying it in your own writing. Spotting redundancy is a big part of editing and it can help you turn your writing into something that is much more concise and easy to read.
One of the first things you want to do is read through your entire paper. If something doesn’t sound or look right, then read over it again and see if you can spot any problems. Don’t fixate on it too long, but ask yourself if every word in the paragraph, sentence, or phrase is necessary. If you feel that you can take something out and the paper will retain its meaning then do so. Even if you aren’t sure, take the word or phrase out anyway and see how it works. If it doesn’t fix the problem, just add it back.
You may not be able to spot every problem in your writing though, especially immediately after you’ve written it. A good thing to practice is take a few hours after you’ve completed the paper and do something else. Some people will wait until the following day to look at their writing and see if they can identify any problems then. It can be really beneficial to take a good hard look at your work with a fresh set of eyes.
If you still think that your paper needs some work, get a peer, family member, or even a teacher to help you edit and see if they can spot anything wrong with it.
Fixing Redundancy in Your Writing
Now that you know how to identify redundancy, you can explore the ways that you can fix it. Remember that redundancy involves superfluous words, which means that you will more than likely be cutting the phrase short. Below are some redundant sentences and examples of ways that you can fix them.
- Redundant: There were three teachers that taught each and every hour at school today.
- Fixed: There were three teachers that taught every hour at school today.
Notice that the phrase “each and every” was redundant in the first sentence? Each and every essentially mean the same thing in this instance, so you don’t have to use it.
- Redundant: Everything being equal, the members of the Student Council will think about the argument, and come up with a final decision through a vote next week at an open meeting.
- Fixed: The members of the Student Council will have a final decision next week at an open meeting after a vote.
Although the above sentence didn’t have a particular phrase that needed to be fixed, the wording was still superfluous and unnecessary. As stated before, redundancy doesn’t just mean that the words repeat, but that they add unnecessary length to the sentence or phrase.
There are many occasions where you want to make sure that you completely avoid redundant writing at all costs. When you’re in college, you will be writing various essays and papers that have to be high in quality. If you want to improve on your writing and get it to a college level, then you should look into the course College Writing Essentials.
Removing the Habit
You may not like the fact that your work can tend to get a little redundant from time to time. The best thing you can do is slowly working on removing the habit. Start by thinking carefully on what you’re writing and if it quickly conveys the message that you want.
One of the best things you can do is to reduce things slowly. Shrink a clause down to a phrase and a phrase down to a few single words. It will take some time to completely remove the habit, and even then you may still do it from every now and then. If you really want to improve your writing and make it more concise, then you can start off by writing and practicing more.
If you can’t think of anything to write to practice, you can try using some creative writing prompts to get a quick jump-start.
Not All Redundancy is Bad
Sometimes redundancy can be a good thing. As mentioned before, redundancy can be used for emphasis. You’ve probably seen a lot of redundant phrases in advertisements. People will write words such as “Free gift” and “Added Bonuses” to emphasize how good something may be.
This is only in specific situations though. In other situations writing concisely is incredibly important. One form of writing that requires you to write concisely is technical writing. If you want to know more about technical writing, then you should check out the Udemy course, Technical Writing and Editing.