Avoid Duplicate Words When Possible Possible

I was writing an article today, and I caught myself using what I call ‘duplicate words’. I don’t know if there is an official ‘name’ for this when it occurs, but basically, what I’m referring to is a sentence structured in such a way that while it is grammatically correct, technically, it is awkward phrasing to use the same word twice in a row in a sentence.

The most common phrase is the ‘had had’ phrase.

If he had had more room, he wouldn’t have had to put the items in storage.

As you can see, this is when you get into your past tense, and past progressive tenses, and though it is grammatically correct to say ‘had had’, it is very awkward. Not only is it awkward, but it’s difficult to say, and your brain does tend to stumble on it.

Another time it sometimes happens is an ‘is is’ situation. This ‘is is’ situation is not nearly as common, since it’s technically not the best grammar choice to end a word or a phrase with a linking verb (is, was, etc.), and to get an ‘is is’ phrase, you’d have to do that.

If it is, is this going to be bad. What it is is a jacket for a mouse.

Then there is the ‘that that’ combination.

If he’s going to do that, that is going to hurt.

I mean, none of these are technically ‘wrong’ but they really are not strong writing, you know?

He moved in in February.

Yet, when reading blogs around the blogosphere, I find these ‘duplicate word’ situations frequently.

Here’s my take on it: don’t do it.

Even the ‘had had’ combination that is technically grammatically correct is still awkward, and a good writer can ALWAYS find another way to phrase it so that it’s not necessary.

Pure opinion on this one, since I know some editors will disagree with me and say they see absolutely nothing wrong at all with the duplicate words, but I ask you to really think about it and read it if you write one of these types of sentences and ask yourself it’s really the strongest and best way to word what you’re trying to say.

That’s my opinionated editing tip for the day.

Keep writing and editing, editing, editing.

(that’s a triplicate there, huh?)

Love and stuff,

PS: Can you find other instances of duplicate word phrases that are technically correct, but not ‘right’? Show me!