As a connoisseur of the intricacies of the English language, I’ve observed countless instances of redundancy in everyday speech and writing.
While many may not even realize they’re committing these linguistic faux pas, I believe it’s time to shed light on the worst offenders: pleonasms.
In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the ten most common pleonasms used without even realizing it, examining their origins, why they persist, and how to avoid them in the future.
So, join me in this enlightening journey of linguistic discovery and refinement.
1. Past History
Beginning our list of common pleonasms is the seemingly innocuous phrase “past history.”
When discussing events, actions, or circumstances that have already occurred, it is quite common for individuals to refer to them as part of their “past history.” However, upon closer examination, one will quickly realize that this phrase is inherently redundant. The term history itself implies that the subject matter pertains to the past. Therefore, adding the word “past” creates an unnecessary repetition of the idea. To communicate more effectively and avoid this redundancy, simply use the word “history” on its own.
2. End Result
Another frequently used pleonasm is the expression “end result.”
The concept of a result is, by definition, the outcome or consequence of a particular action or event. The word “end” is often added to emphasize the finality of the outcome. However, the idea of finality is already inherent in the word “result.” Instead, we should use the term “result” independently to convey the same meaning without redundancy.
3. Free Gift
Who doesn’t love a “free gift”? Unfortunately, this phrase is another example of a common pleonasm.
- Free: When something is given without the requirement of payment, the term “free” is employed. It denotes that the recipient does not have to provide any form of compensation for the item or service in question.
- Gift: A gift is generally understood to be an item or service given voluntarily to someone without expecting payment in return.
As one can see, the definitions of “free” and “gift” both involve the absence of payment. Thus, using the phrase “free gift” is tautological and unnecessary. Instead, simply use the term “gift” to convey the intended meaning.
4. Advance Warning
Another offender in the realm of pleonasms is the phrase “advance warning.”
- Warning: A warning is a statement or action that informs someone of a possible danger, problem, or other undesirable future event.
- Advance: The concept of advance is used to emphasize that something is occurring before a particular point in time.
Considering the nature of a warning, it is inherently given in advance of the potential undesirable event. Consequently, using the term “advance” in conjunction with “warning” creates a needless repetition. To avoid this pleonasm, simply use “warning” on its own to convey the same idea.
5. Close Proximity
Next on our list of common pleonasms is the phrase “close proximity.”
The term proximity refers to the nearness or closeness of one thing to another. Adding the adjective “close” to describe proximity is redundant, as the concept of nearness is already implied. To eliminate this pleonasm, simply use the term “proximity” on its own.
6. Personal Opinion
Another frequently used pleonasm is the expression “personal opinion.”
An opinion is defined as a belief or judgment that an individual holds, which may not necessarily be based on fact or knowledge. The adjective “personal” is often added to emphasize that the opinion in question belongs to the individual expressing it. However, since opinions are inherently personal in nature, the use of the term “personal” is redundant. To communicate more effectively, simply use the word “opinion” by itself.
7. Unexpected Surprise
A surprise is something that catches us off guard, making the phrase “unexpected surprise” a prime example of a pleonasm.
By definition, a surprise is an unforeseen or unexpected event, appearance, or statement. The adjective “unexpected” is often added to emphasize the suddenness or unpredictability of the surprise. However, since the essence of a surprise is its unexpected nature, using the term “unexpected” is redundant and unnecessary. Instead, simply use the word “surprise” to convey the same meaning without repetition.
Another linguistic offender is the term “pre-plan.”
The term plan denotes the process of making detailed arrangements or preparations for a future event or course of action. The prefix “pre-” is often added to emphasize that the planning is taking place before the event or action occurs. However, planning is inherently a process that occurs before the event or action in question, rendering the use of “pre-” redundant. To avoid this pleonasm, simply use the word “plan” on its own.
9. PIN Number
One of the most common pleonasms encountered in everyday life is the phrase “PIN number.”
The acronym PIN stands for Personal Identification Number, which is a secure code used to access personal accounts, such as bank accounts or mobile devices. By adding the word “number” after “PIN,” one is essentially saying “Personal Identification Number number,” which is clearly redundant. To eliminate this pleonasm, simply use the term “PIN” without appending the word “number.”
10. Final Conclusion
Lastly, we have the phrase “final conclusion.”
A conclusion is the final decision, judgment, or result that is reached after considering all available information and evidence. The adjective “final” is often added to stress the conclusiveness or definitiveness of the conclusion. However, since a conclusion inherently signifies the end of a process or discussion, the term “final” is redundant. To communicate more effectively, simply use the word “conclusion” on its own.
In conclusion, pleonasms are pervasive in the English language, often slipping into our everyday speech and writing without our conscious awareness. By examining and understanding these top 10 common pleonasms, we can work towards refining our linguistic skills and communicating more effectively. After all, language is a powerful tool, and mastering its intricacies can only serve to enhance our ability to express ourselves and connect with others.