Tautological Phrases


Tautologies (las tautologías) are to be avoided because they demonstrate unthinking minds (las mentes irreflexivas), and show that you do not understand the meaning of the words.

Let’s examine some of the common errors:

  • It was an “awful tragedy”. Where is the mistake? A tragedy is by definition “awful”. Or are there “nice” tragedies? No.
  • There is an “unconfirmed rumour” that Mr. Corbyn is going to resign. A rumour is just talk. So by definition it is wrong to use “unconfirmed” here.
  • There are three “different” people in  the meeting with Mr. Trump. If there are three people in the meeting, it is obvious that they are different. The people cannot be three versions of one person.
  • The report was full of “factual” information. “Information” is by definition referring to facts.
  • Please do not show your PIN “number” to anyone. The “N” stands for “number”, so why “PIN number”? Unthinking minds abound (abundan).
  • Mr. Podemos is looking for a safe haven (refugio). A haven is by definition a safe place. Is there an unsafe haven? No – that would be a contradiction.

There are many such mistakes. You will hear them on the BBC, and see them in newspapers. Don’t be a tautologist.

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