Redundancies are Unnecessarily Redundant

What is a redundancy?  Put simply, it is an unnecessary repetition of information.  For example, you don’t need to say “absolutely certain” because ‘absolute’ is implied in the meaning of ‘certain’.  So there is no other way to ‘be certain’ other than ‘absolutely’.  It is unnecessary (or redundant) to add the adverb ‘absolutely’ to the verb ‘certain’.

Once you start paying attention to redundancies, you will notice many redundant phrases that English speakers use all the time.  People do this for a couple of reasons, not just due to poor English  skills.  One of the main reasons is to stress the importance of what is being said.  A speaker or writer may be fully aware that the additional words are not needed, but will include them anyway to show emphasis.  However, this can become a habit. For many people, overuse of redundant phrases is just a bad habit that clutters and crowds their speaking and writing.  Then, the more often people get used to hearing and seeing certain phrases, the more likely they are to repeat them.

Try this:  Avoid unnecessary repetition when speaking and writing English.  State things as simply as possible to make your meaning clear.  As I always like to stress to my students, don’t be a pest and  go around correcting others, just set the example in speaking and writing correctly!

Here are some common examples:

  • Ask a question:  You cannot do anything but ask a question.
  • Advance notice:  All notices come in advance.
  • Filled to capacity:  ‘Capacity’ means filled.
  • Present time: ‘Present’ means ‘at this time’.
  • Direct confrontation: A confrontation is always direct.
  • Foreign Import: It is not an ‘import’ if it is not ‘foreign’.
  • Free gift:  If you have to pay for a gift, it is not a ‘gift’.
  • Postpone until later: You cannot postpone until ‘now’.
  • Spell out in detail: If you are ‘spelling out’ that means ‘giving all the details’.

Is the phrase ‘whether or not’ a redundancy?  Watch my latest YouTube Blog Post Video:

Can you find the redundant phrase I accidentally used in my video? While editing, I decided to leave it in the video to show just how easy it is for us to slip them into our speaking habits.


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