Business English Quick Tips: tautology

 

Business English Quick Tips

If you need to write for your job or business in English, these quick tips will help you succeed.

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Tautology

A short one this week…

Tautology is an unnecessary repetition of a thought, word, phrase, etc. Although this is not technically “wrong,” it can make your text look a bit silly – which is hardly desirable in business writing.

Here are some common examples of tautology:

Free gift (gifts are free anyway)

Died of a fatal dose of morphine (if the dose was fatal, s/he died)

Equalized the match to a draw (if they equalized, then it would be a draw)

And your challenge: see how you do with this quick test…

Which of the following common terms (and clichés) are “tautologous” – and which are not?

  1. In my opinion, I’d say that…
  2. The reason why, is because…
  3. I doubt whether…
  4. The book is a suspense thriller
  5. These accounts don’t add up
  6. What unfortunate bad luck
  7. I’m holding a meeting in my office
  8. Our product is an entirely new innovation
  9. Seaworthy ocean cruiser
  10. My immediate priority is…
  11. He had written the report himself
  12. The meeting was called for 5 p.m. in the afternoon
  13. First and foremost…
  14. Firstly, I need to draw your attention to
  15. Firstly, I’d like to start by welcoming…
  16. The truck reversed backwards
  17. Our mission is to seek…
  18. Please RSVP
  19. We need to assess what’s required…
  20. A huge great mistake

Scroll down (no cheating!)

OK, which of the following phrases are “tautologous”, or not…here are my views on it – those I believe to be tautology are in bold. I’ve included explanations where things aren’t obvious.

  1. In my opinion, I’d say that…
  2. The reason why, is because…
  3. I doubt whether…(no duplication)
  4. The book is a suspense thriller (thrillers always keep you in suspense)
  5. These accounts don’t add up (some might say this is, but “add-up” is a metaphor here)
  6. What unfortunate bad luck
  7. I’m holding a meeting in my office (you need to clarify that the meeting is not in another room)
  8. Our product is an entirely new innovation (innovations are always new)
  9. Seaworthy ocean cruiser
  10. My immediate priority is…(possibly tautology, but businesses usually have more than one priority and some are more urgent than others)
  11. He had written the report himself
  12. The meeting was called for 5 p.m. in the afternoon
  13. First and foremost…
  14. Firstly, I need to draw your attention to (no duplication)
  15. Firstly, I’d like to start by welcoming…
  16. The truck reversed backwards
  17. Our mission is to seek… (no duplication)
  18. Please RSVP (RSVP stands for Répondez S’il Vous Plaît, which is French for please reply)
  19. We need to assess what’s required…(no duplication)
  20. A huge great mistake

And on to next week … and if you have any questions about business writing in English please add them here in the comments section; I will try to answer them as well as I can!

Suze

More quick fixes to make your bizwriting brilliant (instant downloads)

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
The MAMBA Way to make your words sell“…how to think your way to superbly successful sales writing
“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

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