Removing Redundant Phrasing and Trite Expressions
• Though sometimes rhetorically effective, these phrases are generally considered redundant.
• Example: redundant– We are not accepting applications at this period in time.
not redundant– We are not accepting applications at this time.
Commonly Used Redundant Phrases
While we use these phrases in common speech, they are generally frowned upon in composition because they are redundant or confusing in meaning. Solution: pick one. Make it clear.
• Thought and consideration
• Personally I
• Refer back to
• Right and proper
• Sincere and earnest
• Way, shape or form
• Repeat again
• Exactly identical
• Still remains
• Any and all
• Commute back and forth
• If and when
• Basic fundamentals
• Considered opinion
• End result
• Different kinds
• Individual persons
• Personal opinion
• True facts
• Equally as good
• Combine into one
• Consensus of opinion
• Lapse in time
• Period of time
• First and foremost
• Full and complete
Commonly Confused Words
Everyone has their own set of words that confuse them. Solution: Know what yours are. Create a memory device for them. Example: Loose has 2 running around loose while Lose has 1 o, so it lost one.
accept – except detract – distract
adapt – adopt formally – formerly
allusion – illusion human – humane
cite – site persecute – prosecute
censor – censure precede – proceed
complement – compliment principal – principle
conscientious – conscious respectful – respective
credible – creditable – credulous stationary – stationery
Negative words: no, not, nobody, nothing, none, never, hardly, scarcely, barely, only. Using two negatives in the same sentence gives the opposite meaning, but it does the job awkwardly. Avoid double negatives!
• Of all the cars I tried, I did not buy (none, any).
• The baby (cannot, can) hardly walk yet.
• Isn’t there (nothing, anything) you want for Christmas?
• Haven’t you (any, no) size 10 dresses?
• We did not meet (nobody, anybody) at Jane’s party.
A trite expression, or a cliché, is a phrase or old saying that is used all too often in writing. These expressions are broad, generic, and have usually been heard so many times that the brain automatically turns off when it registers them. In order to write more vital and exciting essays, it is best to avoid these expressions, as they will only detract from the power of the essay. Solution: drop it and use exact phrasing. Substitute an adverb like quickly. In the following exercise, find the trite expression in each sentence, and try to think of a way to rephrase the sentence.
• Sadder but wiser, Ellen repaid the borrowed money.
• She had learned her lesson the hard way.
• From that day forward she would save for the finer things in life.
• At that point, her money had disappeared at the drop of a hat.
• The whole situation was rotten to the core.
• Roger spotted the mistake as quick as a wink.
• Instead of blushing, she turned as white as snow.
• Her little brother was as destructive as a bull in a china shop.
• His awful reputation spread like wildfire.
1- What redundant phrase do you now know you use?
2- Take a set of commonly confused words and make something up to tell them apart.
3- Complete the quiz in the double negatives.
4- Complete the rewording exercise in the trite expressions.