Redundant, Expendable, and Incomparable Words and Phrases - Correct and Preferred Usage

AMA Manual of Style - Stacy L. Christiansen, Cheryl Iverson 2020

Redundant, Expendable, and Incomparable Words and Phrases
Correct and Preferred Usage

This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late parrot. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies. It’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot.

John Cleese, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”20

11.2.1 Redundant Words.

A redundancy is a term or phrase that unnecessarily repeats words or meanings. Below are some common redundancies that can usually be avoided (redundant words are italicized):

actual fact

combine together

adequate enough

completely full [empty]

added bonus

consensus of opinion

advance planning

contemporaneous in age

aggregate together

continue on

blatantly obvious

could potentially

blend together

count [divide] up

brief in duration

covered over

browse through

current status quo

close proximity to

distinguishing the difference

collaborate together

each individual person

eliminate altogether

old adage

empty out

orbit around

end result

outward appearances

enter into (exception: enter into a contract)

out of [eg, 2 out of 12, but: out of bounds, out of place, out of the question, out of the jurisdiction, out of the woods]

equally as well as

estimated at about

outside of

favorably disposed

oval [square, round, lenticular] in shape

fellow colleagues

own personal view

fewer in number

past history (experience)

filled to capacity

period of time, time period, point in time

final destination

personal friend

final outcome

pervade throughout

first discovered

plan ahead

first and foremost

plan in advance

first initiated

precedes in time

free gift

predict in advance

future plans

prior experience

fuse together

reassessed again

future plans

red in color

general rule

revert back

herein we describe

rough [smooth] in texture

historic milestone

skin rash

interact with each other

software programs

interval of time

soft [firm] in consistency

join together

sour [sweet, bitter] tasting

joint cooperation

split up

large [small, bulky] in size

similar results were obtained also by

lift up

still continues

major breakthrough

sum total

merge (mix) together

tender to the touch

moment in time

true fact

near to

12 noon [midnight]

2 halves

uniformly consistent

whether or not [unless the intent is to give equal emphasis to the alternative]

younger [older] than 50 years of age

11.2.2 Expendable Words and Circumlocution.

Some words and phrases can usually be omitted without affecting meaning, and omitting them often improves the readability of a sentence:

as already stated

it was demonstrated that

in order to

it was found that

in other words

needless to say

it goes without saying

take steps to

it is important [interesting] to note

the fact that

it may be said that

the field of

it stands to reason that

to be sure

Quite, very, and rather are often overused and misused and can be deleted in many instances (see 11.1, Correct and Preferred Usage, Correct and Preferred Usage of Common Words and Phrases).

Avoid roundabout and wordy expressions:



an appreciable number of

many, several

an increased [decreased] number of

more [fewer]

as the result of


at this [that] point in time

now [then]

carry out

perform, conduct

commented to the effect that

said, stated

concerning the matter of


despite the fact that


draws to a close


due to the fact that

because, due to

during the time that


fall off

decline, decrease

file a lawsuit against


has the opportunity to


have an effect [impact] on


in a situation in which


in close proximity to


in light of the fact that


in regard to, with regard to

about, regarding

in terms of

in, of, for

in the event that


in the vicinity of


in those areas where


look after

watch, care for

the majority of


produce an inhibitory effect that


with the exception of


11.2.3 Incomparable Words.

Some words are regarded as “absolute” adjectives, those not possessing a comparative or superlative form (eg, young, younger, youngest or loud, louder, loudest). Words considered incomparable that need no superlative or comparative modifier are listed below:





complete [but: almost or nearly complete]



perfect [but: almost or nearly perfect]









fatal [but: almost or nearly fatal]




full [but: half full, nearly full]

unanimous [but: almost or nearly unanimous]


Note: In general, superlatives should be avoided in scientific writing.