Avoiding Repetition of Words

There are several ways that you can avoid repetition in your writing:

Use the techniques outlined below to make your writings as clear and coherent as possible.

1.   Substituting words

Read the sentences below and think about how you could avoid repeating the underlined words.
  • Unlike other housing projects in the area, the housing project in Philadelphia evolved through the equal participation of the Mayor’s office and the local community.
  • The charity converted several disused car parks into winter soup kitchens. When it had converted the car parks, it was able to provide daily meals for more 200 people.
  • It may take homeless people some time to acquire a permanent address, but they can apply for a job more easily by acquiring permanent address.
You can use one(s) to avoid repeating nouns:
  • Unlike other housing projects in the area, the one in Philadelphia …
In formal writing it is common to avoid repeating a verb phrase by using the appropriate form of do + so:
  • The charity converted several disused car parks into winter soup kitchens. When it had done so, it was able to provide daily meals for more than 200 people.
  • It may take homeless people some time to acquire a permanent address, but they can apply for a job more easily by doing so.

2.   Omitting unnecessary words

Read the sentences below and think about how you could avoid repeating the underlined words.
  • Many council workers feel sympathy for homeless members of their community, but few council workers respond to the problem, as Mike Forster did, by setting up a shelter.
  • There are two short-term solutions to the problem of homelessness. The first solution involves converting empty properties into variable accommodation.
  • A Government spokesperson praised the schemes that the charity had set up, and some of the most successful schemes were later adopted nationally.

You can leave out the noun after words such as both, few, many and some, which describe ‘how many’:
  • Many council workers feel sympathy for homeless members of their community, but few respond to the problem, as Mike Forster did, by setting up a shelter.
If the meaning is clear, you can leave out the noun when it follows an adjective:
  • There are two short-term solutions to the problem of homelessness. The first involves converting empty properties into viable accommodation.
  • A government spokesperson praised the schemes that the charity had set up, and some of the most successful were later adopted nationally.
  • Note : In the sentence above, you could also write … ‘successful ones were …’

3.   Using synonyms

Synonyms not only help you avoid repetition, they also show that you can think creatively and vary the words that you use.

Read this paragraph and find the synonym that the writer uses to avoid repeating the words/phrases in bold.
Stephen Day, one of the authors of the report on the hostel, began working in Liberia as a freelance journalist, but soon became involved in various aid projects. This led to the setting up of his own hostel for homeless boys. Once established, the house became a refuge for young men who had often run away from abusive fathers. Its success seems to have led from a combination of basic discipline and an attempt to bring the boys into the decision-making processes that ran the hostel. Together, these two aspects of the daily life in their new accommodation helped the troubled youths to regain some elements of self-respect.
Here are the synonyms:
Here is the paragraph with the synonyms in italics:
Stephen Day, one of the authors of the report on the hostel, began working in Liberia as a freelance journalist, but soon became involved in various aid projects. This led to the setting up of his own hostel for homeless boys. Once established, the house became a refuge for young men who had often run away from abusive fathers. Its success seems to have led from a combination of basic discipline and an attempt to bring the boys into the decision-making processes that ran the hostel. Together, these two aspects of the daily life in their new accommodation helped the troubled youths to regain some elements of self-respect.