True or False: It is not grammatically correct to use the same word twice in the same sentence.
Yes, there are some situations where it is not correct to use a word twice in the same sentence. We will examine this more closely in a moment. Most of the time, however, you can absolutely use the same word two (or more) times in the same sentence. Reread the opening sentence in this article–both “same” and “the” are used twice.
Sometimes it is a mistake.
First, let’s look at an example of when it actually is incorrect to use a word twice in the same sentence. See if you can find the error in the sentence below:
I sent the report to Javier, but he is out of the the office today.
Did you spot the mistake? When this type of error happens, the writer is usually making changes to a sentence and somehow ends up with “the the” or two other short, identical words right next to each other. It’s more of a typo than anything else. Once your eye catches the mistake, it’s pretty easy to fix.
Sometimes it is grammatically correct, but it sounds awkward.
Consider the following examples:
Please bring last month’s meeting minutes to the meeting on Thursday.
We are in the process of revising the employees’ vacation request process.
Our business is getting a lot of new business lately.
The above sentences are all grammatically correct, but they need some work in terms of style. The sentences with “meeting” and “process” will be easier to understand if those words are used just one time. Meanwhile, the first “business” can be taken out and replaced with the synonym “company”, which has the same meaning. Again, it isn’t wrong to use those words twice, but it will sound better if they are used only once.
Here are the three sentences again, with a few minor tweaks:
Please bring last month’s minutes to the meeting on Thursday.
We are revising the employees’ vacation request process.
Our company is getting a lot of new business lately.
Sometimes it is necessary.
There are times when you need to use a word two or more times in a sentence in order to make your meaning clear. Let’s look at one example:
Jeremy and Andrew will both be at the party, but Jeremy has to leave early because he has a basketball game.
If we don’t use “Jeremy” twice in the above sentence, the reader will be confused about which person has to leave the party early.
Here are a few other examples:
I have five cats and three dogs, but only the cats sleep in my room.
The pain in Grandpa’s foot isn’t as bad as the pain in his shoulder.
Laura was supposed to send me the tax documents and the insurance forms, but so far I have only received the insurance forms.
It is often necessary to use short, common words two or more times in the same sentence, especially articles (“the”, “a”, “an”, “some”) and prepositions (“of”, “at”, “to”, “in”). However, you want to be careful with conjunctions (“and”, “but”, “or”, “so”), which we covered in last week’s article.
In general, if you see that you have used a word two (or more) times in the same sentence, read through it again. Does the sentence sound awkward? Is there another way to write the sentence? Is there a synonym you could use to reduce repetition? Will the meaning be unclear if you don’t use that word more than once? If you still aren’t sure, click the link below to get some help from the editors at TextRanch.
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