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Good Writing 101 – A series from our in-house Grammar Guru

By Jeff Bray

I cringe when I see, or hear, the English language used improperly. As O&G’s self-proclaimed “Grammar Guru,” I look forward to sharing little nuggets of wisdom from time to time, so that we can all be better communicators.

Today’s Nugget of Wisdom: Redundancies. (Yes. Redundancies.) We hear it all the time. Case in point: “The home was completely destroyed.” I even wrote it in a story my first week as a broadcast journalist…only to hear my name reverberate down the hall: “MR. BRAY!!”

Poking my head into the office I learned in no uncertain terms that “to destroy” meant to damage something beyond all repair – completely. My editor told me to always avoid redundancy when writing news stories.

Oh, and to NEVER write that again.

Ashamed,  I slunk back to my desk and got to work.  Needless to say, I learned my lesson.

I’m reminded of that incident every time I hear the phrase read on TV (a lot!), or, as I read just the other day: “(Name) was repatriated back to (Country).” Repatriate is to “send back a person, refugee, etc. to her or his country of origin.” Repatriate “back” is redundant.

Now that I understand the rule it makes me think the writer is uneducated. This is not a good perception for those of us in PR who are trying to influence others – especially “educated others.”

The PR profession requires strong writing skills; after all, we’re here to influence our audiences through our writing. We can only do this through good writing, and good writing requires good grammar.

No matter what career path you take, strong communication skills will probably be important. The better you are at it, the more successful you’re likely to be. My advice? Enroll in a solid writing or journalism course to hone your skills.

Especially if you’re going into PR.

As an added bonus, I will share that the word, “added” is redundant in this phrase.

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