Know Thy English: Reduce the Redundancies

Are you guilty of saying “return back”, “discuss about”, “cousin brother/sister”? Let’s correct that today.

To begin with, what is a redundancy? Well in English usage, it means a phrase that has two or more words whichΒ say the same thing,Β  but we also use the term to refer to any expression in which a modifier’s meaning is contained in the word it modifies.

A bit woolly? Example to the rescue.

Return back

Return = come or go back to a place or person

So you don’t “return back”, you just “return” (quoting that trainer from the movie English Vinglish πŸ™‚ )

I won’t lie, I’m guilty of slipping this one in from time to time as well. Maybe we do it to add emphasis (as is the case with all redundancies, I see now) and no one would probably ever hold it against you, as redundancy is more of a stylistic issue than a grammatical error.

You might pass off saying these in spoken English, but please do be wary while writing as that stays for posterity.

The below are some of the other commonly used redundant phrases. Do a self check.

1. Discuss about

discuss = to talk about something

2.Β Cousin brother

Cousin is a gender-neutral noun and it is actually a very Indian thing to say cousin-brother or cousin-sister. But if you think about it, it really is not required to add the gender as this is usually implied by some other pronoun in the sentence.

For eg:Β He is my cousin-brother.

(Here, “he”Β indicates that the person is male so the extra modifier “brother” is not required.)

3. Added bonus

A “bonus” by definition is something that is added.

4. Chase after

To “chase” is to go after someone.

5. Future plans

This one is curious. All plans pertain to future. But when somebody asks you, “What are your future plans?”, they actually mean, “What are you planning to do with your life?”

6. Free Gift

Are there any paid gifts?Β Hmmm.

7. PastΒ experience

All experience is in the past.

8. Enter into

Enter = come or go into

9. Blend together

Blend= bring stuff together

10. End result

Result is something that happens at the end.

So there you go, the above are some of the most interesting redundancies and there are hundreds more floating around. But this is one of the first steps you can take to remove the clutter and become a better writer. Cheers!


24 thoughts on “Know Thy English: Reduce the Redundancies

  1. I can truly say I know my English. All of what you listed here are my PET PEEVES! And people often get upset when I correct them, including my kids. They think I’m being a smarta$$, but it’s just automatic for me to correct bad English.
    Now for brother-cousin or sister-cousin. I’ll correct you on that one, as in some cases, especially back home. That term is correct. For instance, if a man or woman divorces, marries the sibling of their ex, has child/children B with them, then child B is the sister or brother cousin of the child A which they had in the first marriage. Complicated I know! But it happens.(lol) So in actuality their is such a term as brother cousin πŸ˜‰ because the step father of child A is also their uncle. Which makes child B their brother-cousin. But maybe it’s not the same in India? if not, then carry on……..You are correct to note the correction πŸ˜‰

    But on another note: Did you do a write up for the movie ‘Cloud Atlas?’ I love that movie and would be interested to read your thoughts on it.


    • Okay that scenario almost never happens in India! πŸ˜› That’s really too tangled, lol! Anyway, we Indians call all cousins with a gender modifier. For example, a person would call his mother’s sister’s daughter as his cousin-sister. Which is obviously unnecessary.
      And I suffer from the need to correct bad English too, which is the reason this section even exists on my blog πŸ˜‰ And I’ll be honest, I’ve been called a snob before.
      Cloud Atlas. I’m ashamed to say that I never actually got around to watching that movie. (Which is crazy, I know!) It’s been on my to-watch list and then I forgot about it. Thanks for reminding though. I need to watch it soon!!


  2. Some redundancies are added for effect, end result for example. Though it can be argued that end result is a valid phrase, as distinguishable from intermediate results (interim results and so on, used in many clinical studies). πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The one that I can think of is reiterate which is technically a redundancy but is accepted in the English language long time ago.

    Some redundancies can also be quite funny like repetitious redundancies, PIN Number, at this point in time, it’s deja vu all over again, etc (note: I sometimes see people write “and etc” even on some so called technical papers)…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting. It never occurred to be about reiterate, but you are right! And the repetitious redundancies are quite amusing too. Here in Chennai we have a highway called East Coast Road, but people call it ‘ECR Road’! lol
      “and etc” is totally weird and unjustifiable!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s called RAS Syndrome (Redundant Acronym Syndrome Syndrome).

        Other popular redundancies that I normally hear are ATM machines, DC comics and PDF format.

        Also, DMZ zone ( Demilitarize Zone – the border between North and South Korea). I even heard it repeated several times by the narrator on a National Geographic documentary about it awhile ago!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. You know, I was thinking about something random when this popped into my head- why do we say sit DOWN or stand UP? Wouldn’t sit or stand suffice because obviously, it can’t be done in any other direction? πŸ˜›
    Lol what do you think?
    It sounds right and it probably is, but just occurred to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right and these phrases would have just come into use to account for ’emphasis’. You know, “STAND UP!” just has more force than saying “STAND!”

      In case you’re interested, there are also some verbs in English that are called bipartite. for example, “give up”, “let go”, “pitch in” which only get their true meaning when you have both of those words!


      • Cool! Must be it. πŸ™‚
        Wow I never knew that! I guess I’m going to take in this bit to notch up my knowledge on English and to let go of ignorance. πŸ˜›
        But seriously, I used to think I was really good when it came to grammar and identifying inaccuracies until I did an SAT practise test. It was simply infuriating of a few of the exercise were so complex. You should give one a try, just as a challenge! πŸ˜› πŸ™‚


      • The problem with English is that the rules keep updating every decade or so! The most inconsistent of all languages too, and yet it is the lingua franca so there is no escape from it. That SAT practice test sounds interesting, I think I’ll take it πŸ˜€ How did you fare?


      • Yes, agreed!
        They are indeed. My school curriculum seems extremely drab when compare to the syllabus for the SAT. I’m giving the exam in January. So, still preparing. πŸ™‚


I love it when you comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s