Pay attention to what you write!

rogersgeorge on February 10th, 2014

Once upon a time I had the opportunity to listen to a Peter Paul and Mary concert. During one of the periods of banter between songs, Peter or Paul (I never could tell those guys apart) commented about the ridiculousness of saying “hot water heater.” After all, you heat cold water. The other day I ran into this incorrect usage in an article that I had better expectations of, but now I can’t find it. (If I do, it’ll appear here and I’ll remove this remark.)

Similar redundancies are to say ATM machine and PIN number. Redundancies both. You can usually get away with things like this in your spoken English, but don’t do it in your writing!

More recently I ran into another superfluous word in an article in Inside Climate News quoting an oil pipeline company. Maybe I should say oil pipeline company lawyer. Nearly every lawyer I’ve met thinks they can write, but they can’t.

Gallagher ultimately accepted a $16,000 “close proximity” fee, on top of $6,400 for the land that Enbridge took.

Proximity means “closeness,” not “measure of distance.” A bomb with a proximity fuse goes off when it gets close. It’s redundant to say “close proximity.”

I won’t venture to guess whether Inside Climate News put the phrase in quotes to be precise, or to point out the redundancy.

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