Grammar

10 More Redundant Phrases to Remove From Your Writing

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Last week, I provided a list of 10 redundant phrases that I hope you’ll ban from your blog (and your writing in general). But when it comes to common errors of redundancy, there’s practically no end to the possibilities.

So this week, I have an additional 10 word pairings that are unnecessarily repetitive.

Some of these may seem more obvious than others, yet we see the mistakes repeated all the time, so even the “obvious” ones aren’t obvious to everyone. So check out this additional list and let me know in the comments which ones set you off: I’m already working on a sequel that’ll post in a couple of weeks!

1. Absolutely Essential
Something that is essential is necessary or required. There are no degrees of “essential.” If it isn’t required, then it isn’t essential.

2. Anonymous Stranger
A stranger is someone you don’t know. Someone who is anonymous to you is, therefore, a stranger.

3. Brutal Beating
While some might argue that certain cases of homicide that involve euthanasia may not necessarily be “brutal,” a beating can’t be anything but brutal.

4. New Beginning
If you’re beginning something, it’s a new turn at it, even if you’ve taken similar action in the past.

5. Polar Opposites
Opposites are contrary or radically different to each other on their own.

6. Positive Identification
What is “negative identification?” And if there’s doubt about one’s identity, then one hasn’t truly been identified.

7. Reason Why
The reason is why, and vice versa. Choose one or the other, but not both.

8. Unconfirmed Rumor
Once a rumor is confirmed, it’s a fact.

9. Unexpected Surprise
If it is expected, it can’t be a surprise.

10. Unintended Mistake
A mistake is an error, whether it’s caused by misunderstanding or ignorance. If it were intentional, it might be called sabotage.

So now that we’ve had 20 of these, are there any you can think of that I missed? (I had a few great suggestions on last week’s post, so I’ll incorporate them into a follow-up post!)

6 Comments

  1. But I thought that some of these phrases are phrasal verbs.

    You sould add ‘nearly killed’ to your list. Nobody can be ‘nearly killed’ – you is killed or is nit killed 😉

  2. This isn’t really in the same vein, but “I could care less” annoys the heck out of me because that’s usually not what people mean when they say it – they usually mean the “polar opposite.”

      1. patricksplace msalakka I’m not sure if this is the same thing, but how about “near miss.” This one is all George Carlin’s fault; however, every time I hear it I shudder because a near miss would actually seem to be a nearly-avoided accident.

    1. Either “could care less” or “couldn’t care less” are now both acceptable.

      I get that it doesn’t make sense, but that’s language for you.

      1. I think it depends on the person. “Could care less” is not remotely acceptable to me. And I don’t know why anyone would consider it “acceptable” if they take a moment to actually think about it. I think that’s the real difference between “acceptable” and just “commonly used.”

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.