How do you avoid too much repetition both in writing and speech? I feel like I'm repeating the same word over and over again when I'm writing or talking to people.

The price of this tablet is X and the price of that tablet is Y.

In this example, I feel like I'm repeating "price" and "tablet" too much. I even feel like I'm repeating the same sentence construction. Is there a shorter/better way to say this?

X is being sold in that store at $200 and Y is being sold in that store at $300.

If the two "that store" are referring to the same store, what kind of information can I delete without losing too much information?

Styluses X are $3 per dozen and styluses Y are $4 per dozen.

In this example, I'm not sure if I can leave out the second "per dozen" and still convey the same meaning.

Styluses X are $3 per dozen and styluses Y are $4 (per dozen is implied?).

Or should I even do this to avoid repeating the same construction?

Styluses X are $3 if ordered in dozens and styluses Y are $4 if ordered by the dozen.

I tried to change things around a bit but I'm not sure if this works.

  • 2
    You can always look for alternative words in a thesaurus, which are designed specifically to solve this problem. – Matt Jun 22 '13 at 4:29
  • 3
    Put the two subjects together to make one clause. For example: "The price of X Tablet and Y tablet is $120.00 and $140.00 respectively". – Mari-Lou A Jun 22 '13 at 6:11
  • 1
    Two points: (1) Such repitition isn't always bad. In fact, there's even a name for it. (2) If the paralleism does sound awkward or repititious, that's not necessarily a bad thing, either. Few people write eloquently on the first draft. Therefore, when writing, the answer to your question is often "proofread & edit." When speaking, most listeners won't hold you accountable for repeating the same words or phrases. Incidentally, in your stylus example, I like your original sentence best. – J.R. Jun 22 '13 at 9:39
  • 1
    This is not the type of repetition that's unwanted in fiction, such as "She said... She did... She stood up... She sat down...", this is repetition for the sake of clarity. Per dozen is not necessarily implied, and if you lose it you risk ambiguity. Also, it greatly depends what you write for. If it's fiction, then spicing it up might be good. But if it's a catalogue, price list or a manual, dry but clear might be better. With that said, I don't see why first sentence can't be "The price of this tablet is X and of that one is Y." – Tannalein Jun 22 '13 at 23:17

Put the two subjects together to make one clause.

For example:

"The prices of X tablet and Y tablet are $120.00 and $140.00 respectively"

Join the two subjects with "both" and use a different preposition:

"X and Y are both sold in that store for $200.00 and $300.00"

Sometimes for clarity's sake you might need to repeat the same expression but adding "while" as a conjunction makes the sentence flow more smoothly.

Stylus X are $3 per dozen while stylus Y are $4 per dozen.

You could swap the clauses:

If ordered by the dozen stylus X is $3 and stylus Y is $4

I changed the plural noun styluses to the singular stylus because I presume each stylus has a different price tag, but if company X sells several different styluses all at the same price than it's perfectly correct to keep the plural form.


Suggestion No 2 seems open to misinterpretations, so here are other alternatives.

If X and Y are priced identically:

"X and Y are both sold in that store for $200.00

But if not:

"X and Y are sold in that store for $200.00 and $300.00 respectively.


X is $200.00 and Y is $300.00 sold in that store.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    There is some really good advice in here for the stylus sentence. +1 – J.R. Jun 22 '13 at 9:41
  • There needs to be a comma after "X and Y are both sold"; otherwise you are claiming that there are two prices for each. – StoneyB Jun 22 '13 at 15:09
  • I'm not the greatest with punctuation, admittedly, but why would X and Y each have two different prices? Are they not two different products on sale with two distinct prices? X=$200.00 and Y=$300.00 I suppose if X and Y had the same price tag then my suggestion could stand but I'm not sure adding the comma would remove the ambiguity (which I'm struggling to see). Perhaps this is a case when repetition is required in order to avoid any ambiguity. – Mari-Lou A Jun 23 '13 at 4:50
  • FWIW, I'd put the comma after store, and I'd use the word respectively at the end again. I think @StoneyB means, as is, the sentence could be parsed to mean, "X is sold in that store for $200 and $300, and Y is sold in that store for $200 and $300." Admittedly, that doesn't make too much sense (unless both X and Y have both basic and deluxe models, in which case it might make sense after all). But I don't see how a single comma w/out "respectively" solves that potential misinterpretation. – J.R. Jun 23 '13 at 10:27
  • No comma, omit both (as StoneyB explains), and add respectively: "X and Y are sold in that store for $200 and $300 respectively." The comma doesn't add anything. These aren't clauses and no pause is required. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Jun 23 '13 at 11:58

In the examples you gave, I don't think the repetition is bad at all. These are parallel constructions and repetition makes that clear. You can and should repeat words when your intent is to show that two things are similar.

Contrast your examples with a sentence like, "Bob decided he needed a new tablet. So he went to a store that sells tablets where the tablet salesman showed him a variety of tablets. He particularly liked tablet XR-17, but tablet Ultra Foo, a tablet made by Acme, was cheaper. ..." Here the repetition of "tablet" is distracting and it would be a good idea to look for alternative phrasing.

Others have mentioned substituting synonyms. I assume by "tablet" here you mean tablet computers and by "stylus" you mean styluses used with computer screens. If not, the same ideas apply though the details would be different. But in that case I don't know of any synonyms, though you could use more general terms. In context a general term could pretty unambiguously refer to a specific item. Like if you're talking about tablets and then instead of saying "tablet XR-17" you say "model XR-17", the reader would generally assume this was a model of tablet and not a car or a toaster. In other cases you could drop the word completely as it's already been established by context. Like the above paragraph could be reworded to, "Bob decided he needed a new tablet. So he went to a store that sells computers where the salesman showed him a variety of models. He particularly liked the XR-17, but the Ultra Foo by Acme was cheaper ..."

But in your examples, substituting synonyms could create ambiguity. Like if instead of "The price of this tablet is X and the price of that tablet is Y" you wrote, say, "The price of this tablet is $200 and the cost of that computer is $300", a reader might well wonder if your switch from "price" to "cost" was simply to avoid repetition or if you are trying to convey a different meaning. Similarly they might wonder if the second item is also a tablet or if it is some other kind of computer.

| improve this answer | |

Mari-Lou A gave many good ways to do it. Let me just add about using em-dash to replace repeating part.

The price of this tablet is X, and that — Y.

X is being sold in that store at $200 and Y — in that one, at $300.

Styluses X are $3 per dozen and styluses Y — $4.

And no, in your case:

Styluses X are $3 per dozen and styluses Y are $4 (per dozen is implied?).

No, the second "per dozen" is not implied - specifically because you alliterate "styluses Y are $4" which is not the same as the prior clause at all. If you use the em-dash omission, the dash means "the same as before" and then the dozen actually is implied.

| improve this answer | |
  • Sorry, but "gave most of good ways"? Is that standard AmEng? – Mari-Lou A Jun 23 '13 at 4:59
  • @Mari-Lou: I think there is a missing "the" there; omitted inadvertantly. – J.R. Jun 23 '13 at 10:28
  • @J.R. "gave most of the good ways"? It sounds a bit better but still very odd to my ears. – Mari-Lou A Jun 23 '13 at 10:34
  • I'd say "many good ways." Most implies a finite list. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Jun 23 '13 at 11:57
  • Thanks all; I'm still struggling with some English constructs... :) – SF. Jun 23 '13 at 13:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.