Eliminating Additional Extras II
By Annette Rey
Everyone has specific ways of communicating, it’s one of the facets that makes us individuals. Most of us are not professorial in our speech and insert idiosyncratic expressions into our writing. These expressions may be considered unwanted in the written word.
You want to perfect your craft and want to present your work error-free. How can you do that without knowing the rules?
Part One in this series of six covered tautology: the needless repetition of an idea. Today, in Part Two, pleonasms will be addressed: the error of including superfluous words in a sentence that, when deleted, do not change the meaning or the structure of a sentence.
As with this entire series, information on this subject is drawn from Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney.
My examples of pleonasms will help you spot them in your own writing.
- Using both, as in this example: Both the doctor and the lawyer voted in favor of the proposal.
- Water poured over the dam due to the failure of levees breeching further away.
- High-velocity storms of windy weather raged against the travelers.
Removing the italicized words does not change the meaning of the sentence. Cheney lists more examples that should be eliminated entirely. Listed below are phrases I have encountered.
- As with my brother
- Now and then
- Do or die
- More commonly
- As of now
- Above and beyond
- Time and again
One word can replace wordy expressions as in these examples. Substitute because for the poor phrases below.
- In view of the circumstances that
- Considering all of the aforesaid
Substitute about for the following phrases.
- More or less
- The estimated number of
Cheney provides many more examples in his very instructional book.
Depending on the structure of your sentence, the suggested word substitutions may not make sense. The point of this exercise is to make you aware of often-used phrases that simply should be cut from your sentences. The deletion of these words and phrases provide more clarity for your reader.
As you read through your work and create more pieces, you just may catch yourself using wordy phrases. And that is a good thing to recognize.
How many can you add to these lists?
(NOTE: This is Part Two in a series addressing the types of issues writers’ have with adding unnecessary words to their creations. To read the other posts, click on Part One, Part Three and Four, Part Five and Six.)