Ditch these Verbal Redundancies & Appear Smarter!

Oct 17, 2016 | Language

Consider this paragraph- I came up with a very unique method to address the problem of short attention spans among the current generation of students. At first, I didn’t know whether or not it would work. But based on my past experience in the educational sector, I was quite confident. I thought to myself that with the right positioning, the method will be a hit. As it turns out, the end result was amazing!

Seems like a perfectly legitimate paragraph, doesn’t it? Now, read it again carefully and see if you can spot what’s wrong with it. Grammatically, there probably is nothing wrong with the paragraph, yet from a writing perspective there are 5 mistakes! If you can’t identify the mistakes, don’t fret about it. We’ll revert to it later in this article.

“If two people always agree, one of them is redundant.”

– Ben Bernanke

Communication is an art and written communication more so. In face-to-face or voice communication, our expressions and voice modulation play important roles in getting our message across. However, in written communication, you have nothing but words to communicate (ignore emoticons and smileys for now). Hence, it is imperative that our words and sentences be not only grammatically correct, but also be concise without repetitive clutter. We hear phrases such as free gifts and past history so often that it’s easy to overlook the redundancy in them. Gifts are, by definition, free and all history happens in the past, so ‘free’ and ‘past’ are actually redundant! In this article, we look at some common redundant words and phrases that we use in our daily lives.

Drop these Redundant Words to improve your English:

Very unique

Redundant word(s)/phrase- ‘very’ because unique is as absolute as a word can be. Things are either unique or they are not

Redundant Words: Very Unique

Whether or not

Redundant word(s)/phrase- ‘or not’ because the ‘or not’ is already conveyed in the word whether

Improve English by avoiding this redundancy: Whether or not

Past experience

Redundant word(s)/phrase- ‘past’ because experiences are events and occurrences that happen in the past!

Past experience is a redundant phrase

Currently being

Redundant word(s)/phrase- ‘currently’ because ‘being’ already conveys that the action is taking place now (or currently).

Redundant Words: Currently Being

Years’ time

Redundant word(s)/phrase- ‘time’ and the apostrophe (‘) after ‘years’.

'Time' is a redundant word in the phrase "Years' Time"

Estimated at about

Redundant word(s)/phrase- ‘about’ because estimate already incorporates the sense of ‘about’

Redundancies in English: Estimated at about

Think to myself

Redundant word(s)/phrase- ‘to myself’ because you can’t “think to” anyone other than yourself!

Verbal Redundancies: Think to myself

The reason why

Redundant word(s)/phrase- Use either ‘the reason’ or ‘why’ because they are both conveying the same thing

Example of redundant words in English: The reason why

The number mark

Redundant word(s)/phrase- ‘The’ and ‘mark’ because the number itself conveys the meaning of ‘the mark’

Improve English by avoiding these redundant words: The number mark

End result

Redundant word(s)/phrase- ‘End’ because the result of anything occurs at the end only

Example of redundancy: End Result

Now that you have read about redundancies, let’s return to the paragraph that we began with. It should have read:

I came up with a very unique method to address the problem of short attention spans among the current generation of students. At first, I didn’t know whether or not it would work. But based on my past experience in the educational sector, I was quite confident. I thought to myself that with the right positioning, the method will be a hit. As it turns out, the end result was amazing!

So start getting rid of these redundancies now and sound smarter!