George Orwell said, “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” However, we hear certain redundant words and phrases used so often that they start sounding okay to us.
Here are 10 redundant words and phrases that you should delete whenever possible.
1. Years’ Time
He intends to retire in three years’ time.
“Time” is redundant here and can be deleted. The sentence has the exact same meaning without it: “He intends to retire in three years.” Adding “time” only increases the chance of forgetting to use the apostrophe after “years.”
2. The Reason Why
The number of crimes is increasing, but detectives don’t know the reason why.
For some people, “the reason why” is acceptable in the middle of a sentence. However, “why” is clearly redundant after “reason” when placed at the end of a sentence. Either remove “why,” or delete “reason” and write “… but detectives don’t know why.”
3. Whether or Not
I don’t know whether or not he’s coming.
This is a similar problem to “reason why.” It is sufficient to write or say “I don’t know whether he’s coming.”
4. Currently + Being Done
The bridge is currently being repaired.
The word “currently” is both unnecessary and incorrect here. The present continuous passive structure “is being repaired” tells us that the action is taking place now. Including “currently” merely repeats that. Alternatively, we could say, “The bridge is currently under repair.”
5. Past Experience
Research has shown that past experience helps us make complex decisions.
The word “past” should be removed. In this context, “experience” means knowledge based on past events or circumstances. This error is surprisingly common. “Past history” and “past tradition” are similar examples.
6. The Mark / The Level
Turnover fell below the two million mark.
“Turnover fell below two million” is sufficient. By adding “mark,” we are simply putting a redundant word at the end of the sentence.
7. Estimated at About
Profit is estimated at about 10 million dollars.
“Estimate” and “about” have the same meaning. Write either “is estimated at 10 million dollars” or “is estimated to be 10 million dollars.”
8. Very Unique
Kurt Cobain had a very unique voice.
Something cannot be “very unique,” not even Kurt’s voice. Things are either unique or not unique.
9. The Old Adage
As the old adage says: don’t burn your bridges.
By definition, an adage is always old. Say only “the adage.”
10. Think to Myself
I thought to myself how strange it seemed.
And that is a very strange thing to write. After all, who else can we think to other than to ourselves? Make it “I thought how strange it seemed.”