Excessive repetitions

Excessive repetitions: delete them to raise the quality of your text

Excessive repetitions cause reading discomfort and hinder the transmission of ideals. In other words, they do not fulfill the purpose of communicating well, because they create obstacles for the reader. We risk, therefore, to say that if textual production were a character of classical narrative, undoubtedly the excessive repetition of elements would be one of the greatest villains in history.

Thinking of helping you – our protagonists of the day of written production -, we will show in this article: how orality influences that this phenomenon occurs in writing; the reason why this type of occurrence should be avoided in formal productions; perspective on literary content; and some assertive ways of conducting the text without it becoming too repetitive.

Orality and its influence on excessive repetition

Before we come to the solution of the problem, the main cause must be highlighted. In our speech we often repeat expressions to gain time while formulating a thought. The repetition of words is a very present feature in orality. For this reason, finding such a property in writing causes us strangeness – even repulsion, some would say.

As proof, it is enough to observe a speech that occurs in an informal situation; then, in just a few minutes, notice the amount of elements that will naturally repeat themselves throughout this interlocution.

There are many possibilities of observing this phenomenon in speech. Therefore, a very accessible suggestion of materials to analyze are the audios in conversational applications or even the home videos available on the Internet – it is important that they are not the professional videos, because in this type of media, there is usually more content monitoring and the repetitions tend to be eliminated.

Synthesizing: the problem occurs when there is no well defined boundary between oral and written language, so the peculiar characteristics of each modality are mixed and cause disorder in the text.

Understand why excessive repetitions should be avoided in writing

Unlike what occurs in speech, repetition is expendable and inadequate in writing, since we have the great advantage of monitoring what we are transmitting and in this way we can achieve more success in communication – here among us, even in speech, the excess can cause discomfort.

Likewise, we also do not want the reader to feel bored reading our writings, to look at our texts as wordy or even to think that our vocabulary repertoire is limited.

Literary productions – the exception

However, let’s look at the poem below from the book The Imaginary Open Window, by Ido, where the element “e” appears seven times at the beginning of the verses.

Birth of the day

  • Between warehouses and silos
  • the dawn was born
  • and his light flush of innocence
  • lit the front of the customs
  • and the swinging split canoe
  • between the pure day and the light of a lamp.
  • And the fisherman spitting in the sea
  • saved all the remains of a night of constellations and freighters
  • and hills of onions and brown sugar
  • and creatures entwined in darkness
  • and dreams sighs and labyrinths of sulfur
  • and crustaceans embedded in the hull
  • of rusting dredges.

(Ivo Reads)

In this sense, if excessive repetitions are not recommended for academic or more formal productions, an exception is only open to literary productions.

The practice is totally acceptable in this type of text, because the author is free to use the repetition strategy with a stylistic purpose to give emphasis to certain elements, if he so desires.

The solution

Thus, if excessive repetitions can be the factor that can disqualify, for example, an argumentative production that requires a certain degree of formality, substitution is what will add value and raise quality accordingly.

There are many ways to replace elements in a text. The method can be done by means of the anticipation of the elements (catáfora) or the resumption (anaphora). Here are some ways of replacing them that can be used in the context of their production:

  • Replacement by pronouns
  • Replacement by names
  • Substitution for verbs
  • Replacement with numerals
  • Replacement by adverbs
  • Replacement by ellipse


Typically, pronouns account for substituting most of the items, but it is interesting that substitution by ellipse and also by words from other classes (names, verbs, numerals, adverbs) are used to enrich and diversify the text.

Demonstration in practice

See the fragment below. It has been withdrawn from a situation of real communication and presents deviations from the most diverse orders, mainly regarding textual cohesion, that is, it repeats certain elements in an excessive way and does not establish a satisfactory connection between the items of the set.

I. Text to be revised

In addition to the graphical highlights, for the phenomena presented to become even more evident, the Written World review team solved the problems in the text in order to clearly illustrate why we should care about establishing good cohesion. This is what will result in a well-connected textual set, in which the elements do not reproduce in an exaggerated way.

II. Revised text with marked changes (control version)
III. Revised text with accepted changes (final version)

The attentive reader will realize that some changes were optional; others, extremely necessary. Just as it is easy to notice that, after the modifications, the text gained more fluidity and objectivity. Did you see how repetition can be harmful to your text?

In the face of all this, it is clear that mastery of substitution strategies is fundamental to a quality text.

If you want to receive guidelines and corrections to ensure that your written work has a good level of diversity in composition, just click here to request our budget.