For the past two weeks, I’ve given you a list of 10 redundancies in writing that are so common that many writers don’t even notice as they type them.
The problem with redundancies is that they don’t always appear in common two-word phrases. Technology also provides opportunities for redundancies with complicated abbreviations that we try to turn into neat little explanations that make them a little easier on the ear.
The problem with the way we try to explain them as we jot down the letter combinations is that we turn a perfectly good abbreviation that’s already understood into a silly redundancy that only makes you look bad as a writer.
So here are 10 abbreviation errors that you should make sure you don’t make:
1. A.M. in the Morning
“It’s 3 a.m. in the morning!” This is a sign of someone who doesn’t get the whole AM/PM thing. AM stands for “ante meridiem,” which translates from Latin into “before noon.” Technically, though midnight signals the start of the new day, 12:00 midnight isn’t 12:00am. AM doesn’t truly kick in until 12:01. So in the example, you can either say, “It’s 3:00 in the morning!” or “It’s 3:00am.” One or the other, but not both.
2. ATM Machine
ATM stands for Automatic Teller Machine, so an “ATM Machine” lists machine twice.
3. GOP Party
The Republicans say they’re the “Grand Old Party,” so you crash theirs by using party twice. Be careful, or else an angry elephant my step on you.
4. HIV Virus
HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is correctly referred to as “the virus that causes AIDS,” because one can be infected with HIV but not have Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. But the “HIV Virus” is always wrong.
5. ISBN Number
The International Standard Book Number was originally a 10-digit code, but as of 2007 is now a 13-digit code and is designed to identify commercial books easier.
6. LCD Display
The confusion over this one is nearly understandable because of the LED. A display composed of LEDs, or “Light-Emitting Diodes,” can correctly be referred to as an “LED Display.” But when it comes to LCD, the abbreviation stands for a “liquid crystal display.”
7. PIN Number
One’s PIN is his “personal identification number.” So if you’re writing about one, just use “PIN.”
8. P.M. in the Evening
PM stands for “post meridiem,” and literally means “after noon.” Noon itself is not 12:00pm by definition; the PM actually kicks in one minute later, literally after noon, at 12:01pm. It can either be 8:00pm (or 8pm), or 8:00 at night, but “8:00pm at night” is redundant.
9. RSVP, Please or Please RSVP
Translated from the French répondez s’il vous plaît, it literally means, “Respond if you please,” which is a fancy way of saying, “Please respond.” Don’t beg.
10. UPC Code
Universal Product Codes have made checking out at stores a breeze (so long as the registers are programmed correctly). But they’ve also made it a breeze to come up with this redundancy: a UPC is a code.
Are there others that drive you crazy when you see them used incorrectly? Mention them in a comment!
I usually smile when someone uses "ect" thinking of et cetera. But adn shows up a lot for and. Sigh.
I don't have anything to add--you hit my big three with A.M., P.M. and ISBN--but I do have a Stupid Technology story. To access the internet as a patron at my library, one must log in. There are two boxes on the login screen: Library Card and PIN. Library Card is relatively clear, although we do issue guest passes for those without a card, but the PIN box drives me nuts, because it doesn't require numbers. Yep, you can use a word or any combination of letters, numbers, and/or characters. And we can't change the rubric so that it reads PASSWORD rather than PIN; only the company can. Thirteen years, and they haven't fixed that one little thing!
OK, it's possible I'm a little mental. :D