If you say the same thing more than once, or in more than one way, it may be annoying to your reader, who has laundry to do and hamsters to feed and doesn’t want to waste time plowing through your endlessly-repetitive prose. Here are a couple of habits to avoid.


Reason why

The word reason already contains the idea of why, so there’s no need to put them together. Saying reason why is like saying cold ice or hot fire or sweet sugar. Some people compound the problem by adding because: “The reason why I cut down your peach tree is because I wanted to try out my new power saw.” These people should be imprisoned with no possibility of parole. Shorter and simpler is better:


“The reason I cut down your tree is that it was infected with

a South American fungus.”

“I cut down your tree because I’m allergic to peaches.”

“Oh, was that your tree?”



Both at the same time

Some words are just unnecessary. “Carl and Roger both tried to kick each other.” Do you see that the word both isn’t needed? It wouldn’t be possible for just one of them to try to kick each other, so saying both and each other is redundant. Same with this: “Now Carl and Roger are both apologizing at the same time.” This makes more sense: “Carl and Roger tried to kick each other. Now they’re both apologizing.”



When or whenever?

The word whenever should be used if you’re talking about something that happens repeatedly, or over a long period of time. (Don’t use whenever with always -- that would be redundant.)

“I get heartburn whenever my Aunt Roberta comes over.”

“Whenever I clean the couch, the cat throws up on it.”


Use when if the event is infrequent or uncertain.

“We ran into our neighbors when we were on vacation in Bolivia.”

“When you get to the waterfall, turn right.”



Where is it at?

Does deleting the word at change the meaning of the sentence?

No? Then you don’t need it.







(Excerpted from Writing Rules!)