Redundant words are words that are extra, not needed, and/or repetitive. Sometimes people use redundant words to emphasize a point or to try and make what they are saying seem stronger or clearer, but usually redundant words do exactly the opposite. Redundant words often make a person look like they don’t know what they are saying, because they are simply saying the same thing twice.
Take a look at this infographic from Grammar.net about redundant words and intensifiers.
In this infographic a few common redundancies are highlighted:
machine (ATM = automated teller machine)
number (PIN = personal identification number)
But there are many other redundant word combinations in English that people use regularly. Take a look at the list below of common redundant word combinations in English. Try to avoid using these redundancies.
absolutely essential – both of these words mean the same thing, they mean ‘necessary’
advance preview – both of these words mean ‘ahead of something else’
advance warning – the word ‘warning’ implies receiving information beforehand so you don’t have to say ‘advanced’ too
ever – the word ‘best’ is superlative and implies something is better than all others
brief summary – summaries are, by nature, ‘small’ or ‘brief’
and desist – these words are synonyms and mean the same thing so both are not needed
closed fist – a fist is when a person’s hand and fingers are bent in toward the palm and held there tightly so a fist is by nature closed
from sight – to disappear means to no longer be visible or to be out of sight
exact same – these words are synonyms
down – to fall implies downward movement; you can’t fall up
foreign imports – to import means to bring something from an outside place, which, by nature, means that the thing imported is ‘foreign’
frozen ice – ice is always frozen – that is what makes it ice!
virus – the V in HIV stands for ‘virus’
together – to join means to bring things together; you can’t join apart, you always have to join together, so there is no need to say ‘together’
down – kneeling is to bend the legs in order to sit on the knees, you can’t kneel up
ossibly – these words both mean the same thing and imply ‘a lack of definite action or decision’
past history – there is no such thing as future history, all history is past, so there is no need to say ‘past’
for another term – the ‘re’ in re-election is similar to the word ‘again’, it implies that a person is serving a second term
sum total – these words both mean ‘the whole amount’ of something
wall mural – murals are by nature art that is painted on walls, so you don’t have to include that information when talking about a mural, it is understood
Here are some practice sentences for you with some redundancies from above and some news ones. See if you can find the redundant words and eliminate them. Remember removing the redundant word is a good thing, it won’t change the meaning of the sentence, and it will actually make the sentence better!
Check your answers below.
1. We need to join together the pieces in order to sew them.
2. Please sit down.
3. It is absolutely essential that you turn the report in by 5pm.
4. I met a man today who has the exact same name as I have.
5. I may possibly be able to attend the party, but I don’t know yet.
6. We need to look ahead to the future for the solutions to our problems.