Understanding Why Common Phrases Are Actually Redundant

Image of photocopier and stacks of paper symbolizing extra words and wasted pages

It’s common writing advice: Avoid redundancies. Redundant writing dilutes our message, kills subtlety, and wastes space and time. The words you waste with redundant language could be better used for examples to support your ideas or details that drive your point home and make it memorable. But redundancies are hard to spot without thinking deeply about every word in every sentence.

Here, we’ll explore redundancies and explain why they’re redundant so you can apply the logic broadly, rather than memorizing a set of rules that apply in limited circumstances.

Edited Sentence

Why It’s Redundant

I have already tried fixing that squeaky door many times.

The most common use of the present perfect is to describe something that you did in the past and may do again; since you’re talking about the past, already is redundant.

Litigation arising out of this Agreement shall be conducted only in courts located in the State of Vermont.

Prepositions for location (in, at, on, between) already tell the reader where something is located; so the word located is unnecessary.

Becoming a more effective writer is a bedrock skill that will further your professional career in almost any field.

All careers are inherently professional; the word career already differs from the word job in this way.

On the forum, users can keep tabs on what their friends are buying and reviewing; they can also post recommendations or suggestions for products.

Recommendations and suggestions are synonyms in this context; providing a second noun does not give the reader more information.

We prefer visiting the lake in the summertime summer over the springtime spring.

Summer and spring are inherently periods of time; they don’t need to be described as such.

I like both flavors; I’ll take either one.

Either can serve as a noun and doesn’t require the pronoun one.

The inventors discussed the maximum possible energy available to a portable machine.

The word maximum already refers to a possible value and doesn’t require the word possible.

The team had chosen to hire hired three more marketing specialists.

If someone chooses to do something, especially in the past tense, it is inherently complete; the two verbs are unnecessary.

Justice Souza delivered the opinion of the Court.

It is clear from the context that the opinion or decision came from the court.

Little is known about McCarthy’s personal views beyond what he mentions in his articles.

Views, opinions, and beliefs are inherently personal; describing them as personal doesn’t provide additional information.

While Dr. Lincoln was chairman of the institution’s medical committee, the institution and the asbestos industry were involved in several different studies of the effects of asbestos exposure on health.

Several and different provide overlapping information.

The Veteran’s Association (VA) is required by law [USC 38, Chapter 63] to inform the Veteran population of any and all benefits and services for which they may be eligible and how to apply.


With plural nouns in hypothetical contexts, any and all have the same function. Alone, both any and all communicate that whether there is one benefit/service or one hundred benefits/services, the VA must advertise them.

If you have only 30 seconds, can you explain to a complete stranger what you can do for them?


If someone is not a complete stranger, they are no longer a stranger—there are no degrees at which someone can be a stranger, thus the word complete is unnecessary.

The scientists tested out the drug on patients.

There are many cases in which the word out forms a phrasal verb that changes the meaning of the main verb (for example, run vs. run out), but test out is not one of them. Some writers think the prepositions sound better together, but writers must weigh prosody against wordiness.

I recommend that check-in meetings be held at least once a week at an absolute a minimum.

A minimum is already inherently an absolute. If writers include it for emphasis, the word minimum becomes more emphasized in the sentence, but even without the word absolute, the word minimum can be emphasized in speaking.


Each explanation makes sense, but you don’t have time to hunt for redundancies at this level and your reader has no time or patience to read through them, so what can you do? It’s tedious to inch through each sentence questioning whether familiar phrases are actually sneaky redundancies. So let WordRake help.

WordRake offers over 35,000 context-driven editing algorithms to improve clarity and brevity. In one click, it detects jargon and legalese, unnecessary modifiers, pointless introductions, nominalizations, redundancies, and more and provides suggestions in the track-changes style. Stop squandering word count and reader attention and try WordRake today. It works in Microsoft Word and Outlook and it's free for 7 days.

About the Author

Danielle Cosimo is a Language Usage Analyst for WordRake. Before joining the team, she was a translator and editor for non-native English speakers applying to degree programs in the United States and the UK. Danielle is formally trained in linguistics and has a certificate in computer programming. She is fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. She applies her interdisciplinary knowledge to create WordRake’s editing algorithms.

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WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggested changes appear in the familiar track-changes style. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.