Thursday, March 12, 2015

Avoid Redundancies and Simply Say What You Mean



Good writers simply say what they mean and avoid excess verbiage.


Don’t say: “In my opinion, I think you are wrong.” Instead, just say: “I think you are wrong.” (Obviously this is your opinion.)

Don't say: "At this point in time." Instead, just say, "now."

Don't say: "I thought to myself." Instead, just say, "I thought." (Obviously your thoughts are directed to yourself. They are your thoughts, after all.)

Good writers avoid using redundant expressions.


Redundancy generally occurs when a word or phrase that already has specific meaning is further modified by words or phrases that mean the same thing. 

In your writing, you should always strive to find the most specific words to express your thoughts. 
Then, when you find those words, you must also resist the temptation to embellish them. If you do the result often results in redundancy. 

The following examples are quite common. You may hear them most often on the news or read them online or in print. But, just because they are commonly used doesn't make them good writing.

Avoid redundant expressions to make your writing clear, concise and clutter-free. Consider the following examples. The words in parentheses are not necessary.
blue (in color)
small/large (in size)
(first) discovered/introduced/began
combine/add/mix/link/weave (together)
Easter (Sunday)
a.m. (in the morning)
(free) gift
(added) bonus
drown/starve/strangle (to death)
(Jewish) synagogue
the winter/summer/spring/fall (months)
(fully) comprehensive
visible (to the eye)
(mental) telepathy
(old) relic
reason (why)
consensus (of opinion)
(previous/past) experience/history
(new) baby/invention/discovery
(remaining) vestige
spin (in circles)
thought(to himself)

There are many more. Be watchful and eliminate redundancies from your writing whenever possible.

Click here for an exercise you can use with your students to help them master this writing revision technique.

Thanks for reading!