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Aug 30, 2016

Be Mindful of the Tautological Statements you Make!



Tautology in English is when you repeat a word or an idea in a sentence, in a way that is not necessary. In other words, placing together two words with same meaning in a sentence is Tautology.

Here are some tautological statements learners of English make; please note the italicized words:

1. In my whole entire life, I have never seen a man like him.

Is there any semantic difference between 'whole' and 'entire?' No. Therefore, the correct expression is:

'In my whole life ...' or 'In my entire life...'

2. Please give me full details of the incidence.

My dear, something that is detailed is already full, so the right expression is:

'Please give me the details of the incidence.'

3. The beginner who has just started is very intelligent.

Very funny. Biko, can you state the semantic difference between 'a beginner' and 'someone who has just started something?'

The correct expression is:

'The beginner is very intelligent.'

However,a beginner can actually just start if what he started has levels, i.e. beginner, intermediate and higher levels. So it may be appropriate to use 'beginner' and 'started' depending on its contextual reference. For example: 'My child has just started his beginner's class.' It gives your listener a clear picture of the child's level. (Thanks to my senior colleague, Sarah Daba Wilson for this wonderful addition).

Just note that there is a difference between 'The beginner who just started is very intelligent' and 'My child has just started his beginner's class.'

4. Please, tell the taxi driver to reverse back.
 'To reverse' is to move backward, so why adding 'back'?

The correct expression is:

'Please tell the taxi driver to reverse.'

5. When are you are going to return back my book?

'When are you going to return my book?'

6. My Lecturer has gone on sabbatical leave.

'Sabbatical' also means 'leave,' that is, a period of time someone does not work at his/her regular job and is able to rest, travel and make research.

Therefore, the right expression is:

'My lecturer has gone on sabbatical' or 'My lecturer has gone on leave.'

7. I went to a night vigil on Friday last week.

Smiles. I was guilty of this blunder but I'm saved now. Lol! 'A vigil' is already a nocturnal devotion, so adding 'night' makes it tautological.

Therefore, the correct expression is:

'I went to a vigil last week Friday.'

8. I have asked him several times to change, still yet he refused.

'Still' as an adverb has same meaning with 'yet' so placing both words together is tautological.

Therefore, the correct expression is:

'I have asked him several times to change, yet he refused.'

9. Raise up your hands.

'To raise' also means 'to put up.' Therefore, the correct expression is:

'Raise your hands' or 'Put up your hands.'

10. My mum bought short knickers for me.

'Knickers' are loose-fitting short pants, so adding 'short' to the word makes it tautological. Therefore, the correct expression is:

'My mum bought a pair of knickers for me' or 'My mum bought a pair of shorts for me.'





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