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Sentence correction: redundant words

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Redundant Words

Redundant is repeating something excessively. In a sentence, make sure you aren't redundant or indulge in "excessive wordiness". Long, winding sentences will confuse the reader.

Redundant words are not a grammatical error so much as a stylistic one. Style is important. Choices which are unnecessarily "wordy" should be avoided. You want a sentence to be succint without sacrificing its meaning and correct grammar.

Above all, the sentence should be grammatically correct. Style is important, but secondary.


How do I begin searching for redundancies?

Look for words which express the same idea twice. In some cases, you will find that omitting a redundant phrase will correct your sentence. Take a look at the examples below to see the redundant words in red, and an improvement on these sentences.


Example 1

Redundant: The reason that we stopped for the night was because we were tired.
Redundant: Because we were tired, we therefore stopped for the night.
Better: We stopped for the night because we were tired.

The above phrases indicated that "reason that", "because" and "therefore" need not be repeated because they mean the same thing. It is better to use one of the phrases only in order to make your sentence concise, but still clear.


Example 2

Redundant: The underlying motive behind his kind words was so that he could borrow money from me.
Better: The underlying motive for his kind words was so that he could borrow money from me.
Better: The motive behind his kind words was so that he could borrow money from me.

The above example shows that "underlying" and "behind" mean the same thing in the context of this sentence. Two sentences below it illustrate the various ways you can improve this sentence.


Example 3

Redundant: One of the dinosaurs in the exhibit is 100,000 years old in age.
Better: One of the dinosaurs in the exhibit is 100,000 years old.

Notice that the first sentence used "years old" and "in age". These mean the same thing. What else could "years old" refer to other than age?


Superfluous Words

Superfluous words are unnecessary words. This is another type of redundancy. In the following sentences, note that the superfluous sentence has an ellipsis in red. An ellipsis is a word or phrase which can be omitted because it is clearly implied.


Example 1

Superfluous: The colder the weather is, the more crowded the ski store is.
Concise: The colder the weather, the more crowded the ski store.


Example 2

Superfluous: She looks exactly like Amy looks.
Concise: She looks exactly like Amy.
Take a look at the superfluous prepositions in these sentences.


Example 3

Superfluous: The other students couldn't help from laughing at the girl with the ugly shirt.
Concise: The other students couldn't help laughing at the girl with the ugly shirt.


Example 4

Superfluous: My mother brought half of a loaf of bread to the table.
Concise: The waiter brought half a loaf of bread to the table.


Sample GMAT Questions

Take a look at this sentence. It is probably something similar to what you will see on the GMAT.

Question 1:

Only through a thorough, government-funded vaccination program can the epidemic of malaria be curbed, just like the spread of both cholera as well as the spread of typhoid was curbed.

A) as well as the spread of typhoid was curbed
B) and typhoid was curbed
C) as well as typhoid was curbed


Look at your answer choices.

A) is the same as the original sentence. Is this correct? No, because the use of "as well as" and "both" in the sentence are redundant. Is

B) is the correct answer.

C) correct? No, because you have used "was curbed" twice in the sentence. This is also redundant.

Question 2:

Here's a sample question that you might see on the GMAT which involves redundancy.

Replace the underlined section of this sentence with the correct answer choice.

"The reason that the dog did not attack the old man on sight was because it had been known to the old man for many years."

a) reason that the lion did not attack the old man on sight was because it had been known to the man

b) reason that the lion did not attack the old man on sight was that it had been known to the old man

c) lion did not attack the old man on sight because it had known the old man

d) lion did not attack the old man on sight because it had known him

e) lion did not attack the old man on sight because of the reason that it had known him


Look at your answer choices.

The correct answer is D Why? In this sentence, you don't have to use both "The reason that…" and "because". They both say the same thing. Repeating "the old man" twice is redundant - that's why it's better to use "him" the second time.


Happy studying!


Image Credits:Richard Bowles, Rajasthan Travel Guide, Vintfalken, doublereed, Juglardelzipa


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3 Comments
    yellowmoon88
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    yellowmoon88Fri, 28 Oct 2011 00:51:04 -0000

    thanks for your writing. It's really helpful for my mini-presentation in next week.

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    ruchi garg
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    ruchi gargThu, 19 Mar 2009 21:53:14 -0000
    very helpful,thanks

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    santosh gupta
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    santosh guptaSun, 30 Nov 2008 10:45:29 -0000

    very nice thankyou

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