How to avoid Redundancy?





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How to avoid Redundancy?


Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

— William Strunk Jr.
in
Elements of Style


Whether it's a two-word quip or a 200-word bear, a sentence must be a lean, thinking machine. Here are some notes toward efficiency and conciseness in writing.

PRUNING THE REDUNDANT

Avoid saying the same thing twice.

  • Many uneducated citizens who have never attended school continue to vote for better schools.

A phrase that repeats itself—like "true fact," "twelve noon," "I saw it with my own eyes"—is sometimes called a pleonasm.

Redundant phrases are bad habits just waiting to take control of your writing. Beware of the following.

Redundancy The Lean Version
12 midnight midnight
12 noon noon
3 am in the morning 3 am
absolutely spectacular/phenomenal spectacular/phenomenal
a person who is honest an honest person
a total of 14 birds 14 birds
biography of her life biography
circle around circle
close proximity proximity
completely unanimous unanimous
consensus of opinion consensus
cooperate together cooperate
each and every each
enclosed herewith enclosed
end result result
exactly the same the same
final completion completion
frank and honest exchange frank exchange or honest exchange
free gift gift
he/she is a person who . . . he/she
important/basic essentials essentials
in spite of the fact that although
in the field of economics/law enforcement in economics/law enforcement
in the event that if
job functions job or functions
new innovations innovations
one and the same the same
particular interest interest
period of four days four days
personally, I think/feel I think/feel
personal opinion opinion
puzzling in nature puzzling
refer back refer
repeat again repeat
return again return
revert back revert
shorter/longer in length shorter/longer
small/large in size small/large
square/round/rectangular in shape square/round/rectangular
summarize briefly summarize
surrounded on all sides surrounded
surrounding circumstances circumstances
the future to come the future
there is no doubt but that no doubt
usual/habitual custom custom
we are in receipt of we have received

Abbreviated Redundancies

A special breed of redundancy is proliferating in our modern world as we increasingly rely on abbreviations and acronyms in the busyness of our technology. Some people insist it is redundant to say "ATM machine" because ATM means Automated Teller Machine. They add that it is redundant to say "HIV virus" because HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus, "AIDS syndrome" because AIDS means Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome, "CPU unit" because CPU means Central Processing Unit. It sounds particularly silly when we come up with a plural such as "CPU units" — Central Processing Unit units. It is perhaps too easy to get caught up in this, however. "CD disk" can be redundant, but nowadays the abbreviation CD can refer to a number of things, including the machine itself. Occasionally, an abbreviation — like CD, ATM — becomes more of an idea unto itself than a shortened version for a set of words, and the abbreviation ought to be allowed to act as modifier.

Reducing Clauses to Phrases, Phrases to Single Words

Be alert for clauses or phrases that can be pared to simpler, shorter constructions. The "which clause" can often be shortened to a simple adjective. (Be careful, however, not to lose some needed emphasis by over-pruning; the word "which," which is sometimes necessary [as it is in this sentence], is not evil.)

  • Smith College, which was founded in 1871, is the premier all-women's college in the United States.
  • Founded in 1871, Smith College is the premier all-women's college in the United States.

  • Citizens who knew what was going on voted him out of office.
  • Knowledgeable citizens voted him out of office.

  • Recommending that a student copy from another student's paper is not something he would recommend.
  • He wouldn't recommend that a student copy from another student's paper.
    (Or "He would never tell a student to copy . . . .")

Phrases, too, can sometimes be trimmed, sometimes to a single word.

  • Unencumbered by a sense of responsibility, Jasion left his wife with forty-nine kids and a can of beans.
  • Jasion irresponsibly left his wife with forty-nine kids and a can of beans.
    (Or leave out the word altogether and let the act speak for itself.)

Intensifiers that Don't Intensify

Avoid using words such as really, very, quite, extremely, severely when they are not necessary. It is probably enough to say that the salary increase is inadequate. Does saying that it is severely inadequate introduce anything more than a tone of hysteria? These words shouldn't be banished from your vocabulary, but they will be used to best effect when used sparingly.

Avoiding Expletive Constructions

This sounds like something a politician has to learn to avoid, but, no, an expletive construction is a common device that often robs a sentence of energy before it gets a chance to do its work. Expletive constructions begin with there is/are or it is.

  • There are twenty-five students who have already expressed a desire to attend the program next summer. It is they and their parents who stand to gain the most by the government grant.
  • Twenty-five students have already expressed a desire to attend the program next summer. They and their parents stand to gain the most by the government grant.

.

Phrases You Can Omit

Be on the lookout for important sounding phrases that add nothing to the meaning of a sentence. Such phrases quickly put a reader on guard that the writer is trading in puffery; worse, they put a reader to sleep.

Many but not all of these unnecessary phrases have been taken from Quick Access: Reference for Writers by Lynn Quitman Troyka. Simon & Schuster: New York. 1995. The examples, however, are our own. No political inferences should be drawn from these examples; they are merely models of form.

all things considered All things considered, Connecticut's woodlands are in better shape now than ever before.
All things considered, Connecticut's woodlands are in better shape now than ever before.
as a matter of fact As a matter of fact, there are more woodlands in Connecticut now than there were in 1898.
as a matter of fact, There are more woodlands in Connecticut now than there were in 1898.
as far as I'm concerned As far as I'm concerned, there is no need for further protection of woodlands.
As far as I'm concerned, there Further protection of woodlands is not needed.
at the present time This is because there are fewer farmers at the present time.
This is because there are fewer farmers now.
because of the fact that Woodlands have grown in area because of the fact that farmers have abandoned their fields.
Woodlands have grown in area because farmers have abandoned their fields.
by means of Major forest areas are coming back by means of natural processes.
Major forest areas are coming back through natural processes. (or naturally)
by virtue of the fact that Our woodlands are coming back by virtue of the fact that our economy has shifted its emphasis.
Our woodlands are coming back by virtue of the fact that because our economy has shifted its emphasis.
due to the fact that Due to the fact that their habitats are being restored, forest creatures are also re-establishing their population bases.
Due to the fact that Because their habitats are being restored, forest creatures are also re-establishing their population bases.
exists The fear that exists among many people that we are losing our woodlands is uncalled for.
The fear that exists among many people that we are losing our woodlands is uncalled for.
for all intents and purposes The era in which we must aggressively defend our woodlands has, for all intents and purposes, passed.
The era in which we must aggressively defend our woodlands has, for all intents and purposes, passed.
for the most part For the most part, people's suspicions are based on a misunderstanding of the facts.
For the most part, pPeople's suspicions are based on a misunderstanding of the facts.
for the purpose of Many woodlands, in fact, have been purchased for the purpose of creating public parks.
Many woodlands, in fact, have been purchased for the purpose of creating as public parks.
have a tendency to This policy has a tendency to isolate some communities.
This policy has a tendency tends to isolate some communities.
in a manner of speaking The policy has, in a manner of speaking, begun to Balkanize the more rural parts of our state.
The policy has, in a manner of speaking, begun to Balkanize the more rural parts of our state.
in a very real sense In a very real sense, this policy works to the detriment of those it is supposed to help.
In a very real sense, this This policy works to the detriment of those it is supposed to help.
in my opinion In my opinion, this wasteful policy ought to be revoked.
In my opinion, thisThis wasteful policy ought to be revoked.
in the case of In the case of this particular policy, citizens of northeast Connecticut became very upset.
Citizens of northeast Connecticut became very upset about his policy.
in the final analysis In the final analysis, the state would have been better off without such a policy.
In the final analysis, the The state would have been better off without such a policy.
in the event that In the event that enough people protest, it will probably be revoked.
If enough people protest, it will probably be revoked.
in the nature of Something in the nature of a repeal may soon take place.
Something in the nature of like a repeal may soon take place.
in the process of Legislators are already in the process of reviewing the statutes.
Legislators are already in the process of reviewing the statutes.
it seems that It seems that they can't wait to get rid of this one.
It seems that they They can't wait to get rid of this one.
manner They have monitored the activities of conservationists in a cautious manner.
They have cautiously monitored the activities of conservationists.
the point I am trying to make The point I am trying to make is that sometimes public policy doesn't accomplish what it set out to achieve.
The point I am trying to make is that someSometimes public policy doesn't accomplish what it set out to achieve.
type of Legislators need to be more careful of the type of policy they propose.
Legislators need to be more careful of the type of policy they propose.
what I mean to say is What I mean to say is that well intentioned lawmakers sometimes make fools of themselves.
What I mean to say is that well Well intentioned lawmakers sometimes make fools of themselves.






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