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Is the usage of in and into in the adverb phrase redundant?

"In every competition that you get into, you have to do your best."

I know that it would be better to just say "In every competition, you have to do your best." But I was just wondering whether my usage was acceptable.

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  • I think both usages are acceptable: strictly speaking, ""In every competition, you have to do your best." could be read as including the competitions which you haven't got into. But, this doesn't make sense, so the pragmatic reading of the sentence assumes that you have entered the competition. BTW you have "every" twice at the start of your sentence. May 12, 2016 at 10:52

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Acceptable is a subjective term, but it is certainly redundant, which, according to Merriam-Webster, is writing

characterized by or containing an excess; specifically: using more words than necessary

Strunk and White famously advised:

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

Even more compactly, George Orwell wrote

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

It is not difficult to find commentary that rails against wordiness, and for good reason. You have offered up one sentence that, by itself, is not as concise as it could be. No big deal. But if there is even just one sentence of this sort in every paragraph of a 220-page book, this book could quickly become a slog to finish. When people are forced to wade through what may add up to several hundreds words of unnecessary blather (which is, yes, redundant), they are more likely to become bored and to put that book down, never to return.

If you consider this acceptable, then it is acceptable.

It is also not difficult to find many commentators who consider Strunk and White and Orwell and their contemporaries hopelessly prescriptive and out of date, which might be true. But you won't easily find anyone who believes that wordiness for its own sake makes for good writing. As a literary effect, there are many arguments to be made in favor of repetition and redundancy, but when wordiness is the product of simple laziness or, perhaps worse, intended to fill out a two-page writing assignment, for example, it becomes a problem.

As you have indicated,

it would be better to just say "In every competition, you have to do your best."

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    But "that you get into" is not redundant - it is adding something to the meaning.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 11, 2016 at 23:24
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    maybe Orwell should have followed his advice and instead said "if it's possible to delete a word, do that" :P
    – user180089
    Jun 12, 2016 at 3:44

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