A redundant expression is an expression where each word in the expression means basically the same thing. For example: If you attend the opening, you will receive a free gift. Free gift is a redundant expression. Think about that for a moment. A gift is something that is given to you at no charge. When something is free, there is no charge for it. So instead of saying free gift, you should just say gift..
Just because I am writing about how we need to get rid of redundant expressions in our writing (unless it is a character’s habit to use them) doesn’t mean that I never use them myself. Until I began looking at these expressions, I had no clue how many of them I had been speaking and writing. Once you look at the expression and explore what it really means, you will see that a redundant expression is just needless repetition. In spontaneous speech, redundancy is forgivable, but we need to cut it out of our writing.
Do I still use them? Yeah, I do. Some habits are hard to break.
This is the first of many articles on redundant expressions. After explaining why each expression is redundant, I will give you two sentences. The first will have the redundant expression; the second will not.
absolutely certain – Absolutely means totally and definitely. If something is certain, it will definitely happen.
I am absolutely certain the party is at 7 p.m.
I am certain the party is at 7 p.m.
absolutely essential – If something is essential, it is necessary and has to be.
It is absolutely essential that we go to the beach on a sunny day.
It is essential that we go to the beach on a sunny day.
absolutely guaranteed – A guarantee is absolute in itself, or at least it is supposed to be.
My word is absolutely guaranteed.
My word is guaranteed.
absolutely sure – When you are sure about something, you are certain it is so.
I am absolutely sure I have an English paper due tomorrow.
I am sure I have an English paper due tomorrow.
actual experience – Actual is used describe something that really happened, as opposed to something that happened in one’s imagination. An experience is something that you have gone through, something that has happened to you. Why would you want to say actual experience?
I had that same actual experience.
I had that same experience.
actual fact – A fact is a piece of true, not false, information.
In actual fact, I saw the intruder myself.
In fact, I saw the intruder myself.
add an additional – When you add something, you provide more of it. When something is additional, more of it is provided.
Please add an additional order of fries.
Please add an order of fries.
add up – When you add numbers together, you find what they total. It is unnecessary to use “up” with add, even though when something is “up” it is increased in number.
Please add up the numbers for me.
Please add the numbers for me.
added bonus – A bonus is already understood to be something extra. When you get a bonus in your paycheck, you have money added to what it would normally be.
You can expect an added bonus at Christmas.
You can expect a bonus at Christmas.
advance forward – When you advance, you move forward. Wow. I just used forward to explain what the meaning of advance is, so why would you want to use the two words together?
The troops will advance forward ten miles each afternoon.
The troop will advance ten miles each afternoon.
advance notice – Notice is an announcement of something that is going to happen. The only way you wouldn’t receive it in advance is if your notice was lost in the mail or someone chose not to tell you. A notice is always intended to be told before the fact.
Darlene received advance notice of the swim meet.
Darlene received notice of the swim meet.
advance planning – You don’t wait until an event is over with to plan for it, you always plan for it in advance.
The wedding required a lot of advance planning.
The wedding required a lot of planning.
advance reservations – When you make reservations, you ensure that a room at a hotel will be saved for you, a seat on an airplane will be waiting on your arrival, or that a table at a restaurant will be kept for you. If you wait until you arrive, you aren’t making reservations. Reservations are always made in advance.
Alisha requires patrons to make advance reservations to dine in her restaurant on Sundays.
Alisha requires patrons to make reservations to dine in her restaurant on Sundays.
advance warning – A warning is received of possible danger ahead. You wouldn’t want to receive warning of a tornado fifteen minutes after it hit where you live.
Advance warning of the approaching tidal wave cleared the beaches before it hit.
Warning of the approaching tidal wave cleared the beaches before it hit.
How many more redundant expressions can you think of?