How to Avoid Pleonasms
In order to avoid using pleonasms, it is important to be aware of when your writing is redundant.
- Identify pleonasms.
- Omit pleonasms.
Consider the following pleonasms and omissions:
I saw it with my own eyes.
Unless you are emphasizing something amazing you have seen, simply say:
I saw it.
Here is another example:
It’s clear that you’re upset.
The “that” is unnecessary, so it can be omitted:
It’s clear you’re upset.
Simplified sentences are smoother and easier to understand than pleonasms.
When to Use Pleonasms
Although pleonasms are generally avoided, they are sometimes useful. For instance, a child who is excited at having seen a huge jet plane may say “I saw it with my very own eyes!” for emphasis over the simplified phrase “I saw it!” For a second example, someone may emphasize greatness with a pleonastic phrase: “It was the best, the very best, the greatest of the great!” These phrases are considered acceptable because they are used intentionally in order to emphasize and dramatize. Pleonasms should be avoided when clear and concise text is preferred, such as in research essays, scientific manuals, and textbooks.