Eliminate Unnecessary Language

Why should unnecessary words and phrases be eliminated?

Unnecessary words and phrases result in redundancy. A writer can achieve efficiency in writing by using concise words and phrases that denote clear meaning. Each word should contribute to the argument and purpose of an assignment; if a word or phrase can be removed from a sentence without affecting its meaning, it should be eliminated.

How can unnecessary words or phrases be eliminated?

  • Revise redundant phrases, synonymous terms, and unnecessary word pairs.
    • Quickly speeding (speeding implies quickness)
    • Young teenage mothers (young and teenage are synonyms)
    • Financial cost (financial and cost both imply money)
  • Revise redundant terms in order to be more efficient.
    • Redundant: Young adults should self-assess their situation before making a big, life-changingdecision.
    • Revised: Young adults should assess their situation before making a major decision.
  • Remove redundant adjectives and adverbs; use only those that contribute to the intended message.
    • Overuse of adjectives: The large, angry, noisy crowd stormed the Capital building.
    • Revised: The mob stormed the Capital building.
    • Overuse of adverbs: She carefully and quietly walked through the room.
    • Revised: She crept through the room.
  • Remove redundant modifiers; overuse clutters the writing and distracts the reader.
    • Overuse of modifiers: The business capitalists, who focus on domestic interests, only really invest in American groups.
    • Revised: The business capitalists rarely invest in international groups.

 For additional information on eliminating unnecessary words, see also Editing for Economy in Appendix