Cut the Clutter: Avoid and Evade Redundancy

The basic fundamentals of good grammar says to never at any time repeat again words with the exact same meaning that create unnecessarily superfluous writing, as the final outcome will lack the absolutely essential element of clarity.

(Translation: Eliminate redundancy.)

How many redundant words did you count in the first paragraph? Did you count seven?

The 1basic fundamentals of good grammar says to 2never at any time 3repeat again words with the 4exact same meaning that create 5unnecessarily superfluous writing, as the 6final outcome will lack the 7absolutely essential element of clarity.

Eight, if you count the title “Avoid and Evade Redundancy.”

As you can see in the above example, redundancy can cause confusion, as repetitious words and phrases make writing longer, not better. Clarity is key. Redundancies are often a tool beginning writers use to fill pages or attempt to sound “academic,” when it often only causes confusion.

Redundancies are so common in written language that often we don’t even realize we are using them, and make unintentional mistakes. OOPS! There’s another one – unintentional mistakes. All mistakes are unintentional – right?

Consider the following redundancies in italics:

Ex. 1:

It is absolutely essential that all students meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

If something isessential,” can it be any more essential withabsolutelyin front of it?
Probably not.

Ex. 2:

The advance preview of Transformers scored big at the box office.

You might have seen this one in film reviews, or even on E  TV. If a movie is a preview, doesn’t that mean it is in advance of the release?

Ex. 3:

In my personal opinion, everyone could benefit from eating more chocolate.

Everyone, at one time or another, has at least said this, if not written it. So what is wrong with this example?
If it is your opinion, isn’t it personal?

Ex. 4:

The final outcome of the Literature exam was better than I expected.

The outcome of something is always final, right?

Ex. 5:

The past history of primary elections indicates this one isn’t over yet.

This is an easy one.

Final Conclusion

To get down to a lean, mean writing machine, edit your essays for future recurrences of redundancies that might possibly create wordy sentences. The end result will be more precise prose and crystal clear writing.

For Fun:

Write a 50-word essay on any topic, using as many redundant words or phrases as you can and send them to me at

The best (or worst?) will be published on our blog next quarter.