Oxymorons and Redundant Phrases

Oxymoron: A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.

Redundant: Words or data able to be omitted without loss of meaning or function.

Writers habitually  insert meaningless phrases into sentences. They clutter up text with unnecessary words. Learn to recognize an oxymoron and your writing will improve.


past history              future forecast

end result                 lagging behind

close proximity       young children

combined total        final conclusion


original copies       alone together

exact estimates      deafening silence

growing smaller    almost impossible

taped live                 pretty ugly


On the left the following phrases should be avoided. On the right are possible replacements.

  • on the basis of           –  based on
  • to a large extent        –  largely
  • for the reason that    –  because
  • on the grounds of      –  because of, for
  • at this point in time   –  now
  • plan ahead                   – plan
  • has the ability to         – can
  • the majority of            – most
  • yellow in colour          – yellow
  • put in place of             –  substitute
  • on a personal              – personally
  • At the end of the day  – finally
  • with respect to             – about
  • each and every            – all
  • in order to                    – to

What phrases can you add from your own work?

Some phrases add nothing to the content; they only add a preamble before the real message.

When in doubt – cut it out.