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5 Types of Redundancies to Avoid

You know the expression “more is less”? Well, this is certainly true when it comes to writing.  The simpler and clearer we write, the easier it is for others to understand what we are trying to say. Redundant phrases distract readers and cause the sentence to lose power and direction.

What is redundancy, you might ask. Well, the act of using a word, phrase, etc., that repeats something else and is therefore unnecessary.

The five most common types of redundancy are: the pleonasm, redundant abbreviations, intensifiers, plague words, and platitudes and cliches. Let’s take a closer look…

The Pleonasm

Pleonasm is the use of more words than are necessary to convey meaning, like the sentence “see with your eyes”. It is obvious because we do see with our eyes.

For example:

“An anonymous stranger stole my umbrella”

“Chocolate cake is better than vanilla. It’s a true fact

In the examples, “anonymous stranger” is ridiculous because all strangers are anonymous, and all facts are true.

Redundant Abbreviations

These happen when the last character is said twice; once as part of the abbreviation, and then the word itself. This type of redundancy is also known as the RAS Syndrome: “Redundant Acronym Syndrome Syndrome”. See how the last word is repeated? It doesn’t make sense, right?

For example:

“We need to find an ATM machine to take money out”

“I think the LCD display broke”

ATM means “Automated Teller Machine” so saying “machine” means we are repeating it unnecessarily. The same goes for LCD, which means “Liquid Crystal Display”.


Many intensifiers do not add any extra meaning to the sentence.

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If possible, always make sure that each word you write or speak adds something to what you are trying to say. Otherwise, it’s redundant!

For example:

“The meeting this morning was extremely important

“The supply of food was severely inadequate

Using intensifiers is not as repetitive as the pleonasm, but they still do not contribute a lot more meaning to the sentence, so it is best to avoid them.

Plague Words

These are words that also do not add anything to a sentence. They are probably called “plague words” because they are annoying.

For example: 

“Eggs and milk are essentially important to make a good cupcake”

“There is basically no reason not to go”

Here’s some additional information on plague words, if you’d like to know more.

Cliches and platitudes

Clichés are phrases or opinions that are overused and show a lack of original thought.

Euphemisms are remarks or statements that have been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful. They often have a moral tone and are used to console people when they are going through hardship.

You can use a euphemism or a cliche sometimes, but too many are boring and overused.

Common clichés are:

“All bets are off”

“At the crack of dawn”

“Money can’t buy happiness”

Want to know more cliches? Visit the cliche website.

Common platitudes are:

“It’s ok”

“That’s life”

“You’ll get over it”

“Just follow your heart”

If you’d like to see more, visit this website.

Did you know any of these types of redundancies?



Author Bio: This post was written by Brandon, a teacher from ABA English. ABA English–the American & British Academy–is an online academy specializing in teaching English with a unique learning methodology based on the principles of natural learning methods. ABA English teaches you English through short films that take place in real-life situations with 144 free video classes. Go to ABA English and start improving your English with your free 144 video classes.

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2 Responses to 5 Types of Redundancies to Avoid

  1. Andrei Fiodorov August 31, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

    Dear Magoosh,

    I work as a TOEFL instructor in a small Eastern European country called Moldova. I have a question for you about redundant abbreviations. The acronym “TOEFL” stands for “a test of English as a foreign language.” Logically, it is not necessary to add the word “test” to the acronym “TOEFL” since the latter already has it. However, the official TOEFL website ( always adds the word “test” and never or almost never uses the acronym “TOEFL” by itself. Why?


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 5, 2016 at 10:01 am #

      This is a great question with a simpler answer than you might think. Sometimes an abbreviation can become so popular that it’s ALWAYS used, and the original words in the abbreviation are never used. This is the case with the TOEFL. No one ever refers to the TOEFL as the Test of English as a Foreign Language. It’s always simply called “the TOEFL.” When an abbreviation becomes this common and popular, it takes on a life of its own, and can have the grammatical properties of a regular word instead of an abbreviation.

      This is why you can say “TOEFL test”— the words TOEFL stands for are all-but-forgotten in common English use. Similar examples of this include “ATM machine” and “PDF Format.”

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