Sometimes we make sentences longer than they need to be because we include words that are already implied by other words in the sentence. Consider the following sentence:
- “When Obama first became president, he moved into the White House.”
Because Obama only became president once (being re-elected is something different), “first” is redundant. It doesn’t add anything unique to the sentence, so there’s no need to let it eat into your word count. See below for more examples; words in parentheses are redundant.
- “He fell (down).”
- “She prepared a (brief) summary for the project team.”
- “By the time that the firefighters arrived, the car was (completely) engulfed in flames.”
- “The store is open to the (general) public.”
- “(Please) RSVP by November 1, 2015.”
It isn’t necessarily wrong to use a redundant expression; sometimes the redundancy is important for creating emphasis. In many cases, though, these expressions make a sentence wordy without adding much to the meaning of the sentence.
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