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In many forums, I have seen people keep saying to avoid repetition of the same word in a paragraph. But in the sentence like below, how do you avoid the repetition?

Suddenly, the dog stands up and stares at something in the hallway. A shadow of something enters the living room from the hallway. The dog continues to stare towards the hallway.

I have to repeat the word hallway three times, and see no way to avoid it. Why and how should I avoid?

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closed as off topic by Peter Shor , RegDwigнt Apr 27 '13 at 22:46

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Nonsense. That's not the only context where repetition is a useful strategy. And redundancy is not a bug, but a feature of natural language -- otherwise we couldn't talk if there was any ambient noise -- and it is a lifesaver in writing, where most of the important features of natural language, like intonation and gesture, are totally missing. –  John Lawler Apr 27 '13 at 22:43
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This is rewriting advice and as such off-topic, too localized, and not constructive to boot. There are many ways to lose the repetition, and in fact in the last sentence, you can just drop it altogether. (Listen to Steve Krug — get rid of half the words, then get rid of half of what's left.) "The dog continues to stare" and you are done. Avoiding repetition by literally avoiding repetition. But again, there are any number of ways to rewrite this — and it should be rewritten anyway because frankly, the repetition of that one word is the smallest problem with this bit of prose. –  RegDwigнt Apr 27 '13 at 22:45

1 Answer 1

You should try to avoid repeating words in the same sentence, and in two adjacent sentences. But generally paragraphs are more like 5–6 sentences long and it is silly (and will probably make the entire block suffer as a result) to try and avoid reuse across that many sentences.

Anyway, you can rework this by using more deictic language + a thesaurus:

Suddenly, the dog stands up and stares at something in the hallway. From there, a shadow of something enters the living room. The dog continues to stare down the corridor.

Or just cut some of the redundancy altogether because I'd argue it isn't necessary to keep reminding the reader of the location of the dog:

Suddenly, the dog stands up and stares at something in the hallway. a shadow of something enters the living room. The dog continues to stare down the hall.

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You should try to write like you talk and talk like you write -- unless somebody is paying you to do differently -- and pay no attention to what anyone else tells you about "proper" and "improper" language. Propriety is a moral matter, not an oral one. –  John Lawler Apr 27 '13 at 22:45

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