Pruning the Redundant

Pruning the Redundant

Avoid saying the same thing twice:

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

A phrase that repeats itself—like “true fact,” or “I saw it with my own eyes”—is sometimes called a pleonasm.

Redundant phrases like the following should be avoided:

REDUNDANCY

THE LEAN VERSION

12 midnight midnight
12 noon noon
3 am in the morning 3 am
absolutely phenomenal 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

REDUNDANCY

THE LEAN VERSION

in the field of economics in economics
in the event that if
job functions job or functions
new innovations innovations
one and the same the same
period of four days four days
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

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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 trying to fill the academic paper without adding meaningful content.

all things considered

 

  • All things considered, swimming is an effective way to stay in shape.
  • Swimming is an effective way to stay in shape. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

as a matter of fact

  • As a matter of fact, swimming improves the heart’s condition.
  • Swimming improves the heart’s condition. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

as far as I’m concerned / in my opinion

  • As far as I’m concerned / In my opinion, schools should offer swimming programs.
  • Schools should offer swimming programs. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

at the present time

  • At the present time, young people are at risk of developing health problems.
  • These days young people are at risk of developing health problems. (The sentence is improved by replacement of the unnecessary phrase.)

because of the fact that

  • Young people run the risk of developing health problems because of the fact that they do not exercise enough.
  • Young people run the risk of developing health problems because they do not exercise enough. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

by means of

  • The heart’s condition improves by means of exercise.
  • The heart’s condition improves through exercise. (The sentence is improved by replacement of the unnecessary phrase.)

by virtue of the fact that / due to the fact that

  • Swimming tones the body by virtue of the fact / due to the fact that muscles are constantly solicited.
  • Swimming tones the body because muscles are constantly solicited. (The sentence is improved by replacement of the unnecessary phrase.)

that exists

  • The belief that exists that exercise is not necessary is incorrect.
  • The belief that exercise is unnecessary is incorrect. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

for all intents and purposes / in a manner of speaking / in a very real sense

  • For all intents and purposes / in a manner of speaking / in a very real sense, swimming elevates the heart rate.
  • Swimming elevates the heart rate. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

for the most part

  • For the most part, swimming is inexpensive.
  • Swimming is inexpensive. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

for the purpose of

  • Swimming programs are created for the purpose of improving students’ overall health.
  • Swimming programs are created to improve students’ overall health. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

have a tendency to

  • Swimmers have a tendency to live longer.
  • Swimmers tend to live longer. (The sentence is improved by replacement of the unnecessary phrase.)

in the case of

  • Swimmers have a tendency to live longer.In the case of swimmers, their joints do not hurt.
  • Swimmers’ joints do not hurt. (The sentence is improved by replacement of the unnecessary phrase.)

in the event that

  • In the event that students start swimming regularly, their overall health will improve.
  • If students start swimming regularly, their overall health will improve. (The sentence is improved by replacement of the unnecessary phrase.)

in the nature of

  • Something in the nature of a swimming program will prove beneficial.
  • A swimming program will prove beneficial. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

in the process of

  • School boards are in the process of raising money.
  • School boards are raising money. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

it seems that / the point I am trying to make is that / what I mean to say is

  • It seems that / The point that I am trying to make is that / What I mean to say is students need exercise.
  • Students need exercise. (The sentence is improved by the omission of the unnecessary phrase.)

* 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.

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