Needless Repetition: Editing Exercise


We can tighten our writing by eliminating needless repetition, those words and phrases that do not add anything to what we have written, and may even make us appear foolish. The challenge is that we frequently hear needless repetitions on the radio and TV, from conversations with our relatives, and in the breakroom with coworkers. For instance, you might hear someone say: “Courtney plans to finish her thesis and move back to Houston in the month of October.” The more often we hear or read such redundant phrases, the more acceptable they begin to sound to us – even though none of us needs to be reminded that October is a month!

Since we hear them so often, repetitious phrases may creep into our writing, but that’s what edits are for! Even if these insipid phrases sneak into our rough drafts, we can train our eagle eyes to catch them as we edit, especially if we plan to send our writing to the boss – or a publisher.


Practice looking for redundant terms in the sentences below and decide which words should be deleted.

1. It is a true fact that the U.S. has more divorces per capita than any country in the world.

2. If you want to go to Quebec after graduation, you had better make plans in advance for public transportation.

3. Timmy said the UFO he spotted was oblong in shape.

4. According to our mayor, the root cause of west side crime is poverty.

5. Michelle said she didn’t care what we gave her as long as it was purple in color.

6. We have yet to ascertain the final outcome from their efforts.

7. From what I was told, they have stamped his past history as Top Secret.

8. If we don’t stop that company from buying up the competition, they will have a complete monopoly of the software market.

9. The little people in her diorama are made out of clay.

10. “George, you had better make advance reservations at that hotel before we get on the plane!”

11. Mother has to descend down the basement stairs to do the family laundry.

12. Everyone who attends the grand opening celebration will receive a free gift.

13. Mary made him repeat his promise twice.

14. In my personal opinion, the lines at the Post Office have grown too long.

15. Becky was late getting home because of a terrible tragedy at work.

16. Because of their past memories of Fido, the children cried when he was euthanized.

17. “You two cannot play X-Box games until you have completely finished your homework.”

18. As he took apart the motor, Fred spread out the component parts on the picnic table.

19. Did you know that she called me at 1 a.m. in the morning?

20. The rally attendance was estimated at about one thousand.

21. On Thursday, each and every child will receive a cupcake after lunch.

22. Nancy rejoiced when her calculus class was over and done with.

Click the link below if you want to look at the Answers for this exercise.
Note: This opens a single-page PDF file.

Happy Editing!
(c) November 6, 2011

Related topics:
Tighten your Writing by Eliminating Redundancy

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