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redundant:  (adj.)  wordy; verbose; long-winded; prolix; flowery; rambling; overly extensive wordage; drawn out; garrulous; chatty; loquacious; effusive; demonstrative; vociferous;  talkative; prolonged; protracted; expanded; lengthened; superfluous; extra; excessive; not required; surplus; unneeded; unnecessary; and uncalled for. 


Redundancies come in many forms, just like there are many words that mean the same thing as "redundant."  In its simplest form, it is stating anything that truly isn't necessary, and the Golden Rule for good writing is:  If it's not necessary, then it shouldn't be there.  And that's why redundancies really need to be avoided. 

In addition, being redundant can make your reader question your vocabulary.  I mean, seriously, if you don't know that "recapitulate" means the same thing as "over and over," then how much should I trust you to know about the international commodities market?  Think of it this way:  You are trying to get me to change my mind with your paper, but I don't want to change.  Nobody does.  So I'm looking for a reason to ignore you.  Anything will do.  Being redundant makes it easy to ignore you.  Yeah, you may be ignored regardless, but don't make it easy.

As well, saying something like "hemorrhage or the increased loss of blood" can be downright funny, and it's never good when your reader is laughing and your paper is supposed to be serious.  Being redundant can also look like you are trying to make a short paper longer (which is usually very obvious).  And redundancies can really be confusing (such as "associational organizations" – just what the heck does that mean?). 

The following are some of the more common "forms" of redundancies. 



This is where you state the exact (or nearly exact) thing in the same sentence, the same paragraph, or the same paper.  Such as the following examples:

”K9 police officers, commonly called K9 police officers..." or...

"Pollution is threatening all life on the planet.  As well, pollution could kill all living things.  Pollution also threatens all humans."

The second example above is especially redundant.  First, "all life" means the same thing as "all living things" (just as "all humans" means the same thing as "humans").  And then it assumes that "humans" are not part of "all life."

As a general rule, especially in a relatively short paper (anything three pages or less), once you've said something, you shouldn't say it again.  Even if you are summarizing your paper in the closing paragraph, do not repeat the same lines verbatim – truly reword them.  When people read the exact (or nearly exact) line more than once in the same paper, it can make them think they've missed something, and that can cause confusion.


Unnecessary Modifiers:

Take the following example: 

“My annual birthday.” 

Since every birthday is annual, using annual to describe birthday is a bit like using “wet” to modify “water.” 


This and This:

This category also involves unnecessary modifiers, but it deals with the tendency when describing something to use more than one word to describe it.  For instance:

My cat does this and this.

It's fine to use more than one word in describing something, but only as long as the "this" and "this" are truly different from each other.  For instance, if I were to write, "My cat is loving and playful," then that would be fine, but only because "loving" and "playful" mean different things.  However, if I were to write, "My cat is smart and intelligent..."  Yeah, that's redundant, because "smart" means virtually the same thing as "intelligent."

If you are tempted to use more than one word when describing things (and many writers are), there is an easy way to check for redundancy, and that's to use your word processor's "synonym" feature.  In the above example, I could highlight "smart" and then right click on that word.  In the drop down menu, I'd choose "Synonyms."  Then I'd do the same for "intelligent."  If any of the synonyms are the same for "intelligent" as they are for "smart," then I can be fairly certain that using both in the same breath would be redundant.

Now imagine that you are writing a five paragraph essay about your cat.  As part of the "rules" for the essay, you must come up with three different things to describe your cat, each of which is a separate paragraph.  Now imagine that those three things are that your cat is loving, affectionate, and demonstrative.  Yeah.  That's an essay I don't look forward to reading.


Stating the Obvious:

Anytime you state anything that truly doesn't need to be stated, it's redundant.  This includes such classic redundancies as:

"I, personally...." (If it is you, how can it be anything but personal?)

"I was thinking in my head...." (Where else are you going to think?)


Pointless Explanation:

This is explaining something that truly doesn't need to be explained, such as: 

My boss is the person who is in charge of me while I'm at work.

My wife is the person I married.

She's a 16 year old teenage girl.


Unnecessary Pronouns:

Anytime you follow a noun almost immediately (if not immediately) with its pronoun, it's probably redundant.  For instance:

My brother, he always makes fun of me.

In that example, the "he" is totally unnecessary.  So is the comma.



Anytime you use "going" and immediately following it with an infinitive verb (a verb that includes the verb stem "to," then there's a good chance you're being redundant.  This is especially true if you are describing something that you are going to do in the future, such as:

I'm going to do that in the future.

The non-redundant form:  I'm doing that in the future. 

A good rule here:  Don't use "going" for "intending."  Only use "going" if you are traveling.


Redundant Clichés:

Using a redundant cliché is the Daily Double of writing.  Clichés are those phrases we often repeat without thinking about them.  But if we did think about them, we might realize just how redundant (or downright silly) they are.  Take the following:

Many shapes and forms

Each and every

A "shape," in the above usage, is the same thing as a "form."  As well, if it is "each," then it is "every."  And that makes both of those examples redundant.  Just another reason to avoid clichés altogether.


Truly, there is no end to redundancies.  Below, we have gathered some of the more commonly used redundancies, as well as fun examples that we've collected over the years.