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Pleonasms are the ultimate in redundancy. They sound ridiculous, and they should be avoided. Here are some popular examples of this funny phenomenon.
The bank was robbed by an armed gunman.
An anonymous stranger rode into town.
The wealthy diplomat keeps his yacht at the boat marina.
Helium is lighter than air. It’s a true fact.
Acronyms and abbreviations are convoluted. It’s easy to forget what they mean. Redundant abbreviations occur when the last character is restated. Here are a few examples.
All books are assigned ISBN numbers.
There is an ATM machine on every corner.
Jenny always forgets her PIN number.
The Hortons recently installed a DSL line.
Despite the name, many intensifiers don’t strengthen sentences. Intensifiers often dilute the meaning of words they are supposed to intensify. These words include so, very, quite, really, extremely and exceptionally. Here are some examples showing how intensifiers can detract from a sentence.
Jessica is so smart.
The barbecue was quite lovely.
Susanna is really nervous about the test.
This memo is exceptionally important.
Similar words that rarely improve a sentence and should be avoided include basically, totally and essentially. These pedestrian words are unnecessary in most situations. Other words that are less common and also unnecessary include necessitate, orientate, utilize and point in time. Here are a few examples.
Wendy and Virginia are totally going to the party.
At this point in time, there’s no other choice.
Euphemisms and Clichés
Clichés are taboo. These phrases have been said so many times that they’ve lost all originality. Similarly, euphemisms state something in a colloquial manner without really saying it. Using one carefully selected cliché or one tasteful euphemism isn’t the end of the world, but it’s important to avoid overusing these common phrases. Here’s an example. In a nutshell, the situation is cut-and-dried, and we’re bound to have an answer by the end of the day.
Redundant phrases are a writer’s enemy. They distract readers and cause the sentence to lose power and direction. A concise sentence gets to the point quickly by using words purposefully. With redundancy and pleonasms in mind, a writer can easily find and destroy these clumsy phrases. If you’ve encountered a funny pleonasm or a redundant phrase recently, share it in the comments area.