In German, repetition is frowned upon. For example:

Instead of the disfavored repetitions

Der Professor betreut die Studenten bei der Ausarbeitung der Bachelorarbeiten und Masterarbeiten.

Der Versand ist zuständig für den Wareneingang und Warenausgang.

it is recommended to shorten to

Der Professor betreut die Studenten bei der Ausarbeitung der Bachelor- und Masterarbeiten.

Der Versand ist zuständig für den Warenein- und -ausgang.

I know that repetition in English is allowed but is it possible to shorten sentences in English the same way as in German, too? Are there any official rules on how to remove repetition if I want to?

How do I avoid the multiple use of the same word in sentence like that:

The professor supervises the students working on their Bachelor Thesis and Master Thesis

The shipping department is in charge of receiving goods and outgoing goods

closed as not a real question by Kris, MrHen, RegDwigнt Feb 14 '12 at 15:07

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  • "... is frowned upon": in the sense of writing style? There is nothing ungrammatical about the redundancy in the given example. Sometimes it may be unavoidable or even necessary, though most of the time the sentence can be rephrased. And to call it redundancy even though in German, the repetition is only of a part of a compound form! – Kris Feb 14 '12 at 9:08
  • Is the question 'Should I avoid', or 'How to avoid'? – Kris Feb 14 '12 at 9:09
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    It's more about May I and if yes, how to?. ... Of course it is grammatical correct in German, did I said something else? But as long as the understanding doesn't worsen it is a often used way of avoiding this repetition. – Em1 Feb 14 '12 at 9:15
  • Why did you have a pleonasm in the title? In English it sounds bad. Do you do that in titles in German? – Mitch Feb 14 '12 at 13:08
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    I am still not sure what the question is here. You avoid repeating the word thesis by not repeating the word thesis, and you avoid repeating the word goods by not repeating the word goods. And that's what every single answer so far boils down to. Which is kind of pointless, innit. – RegDwigнt Feb 14 '12 at 15:07

Redundancy is also frowned upon in English. Sometimes a little repetition is allowed for clarity. But usually repetition in exactly parallel constructions is considered bad form.

For your second example the better way to write it, without the needless repetition, is:

The shipping department is in charge of receiving and outgoing goods.

There is a culture in expository writing (that is a style guide but not a rule) that says you should not repeat vocabulary items, that you should use synonyms. This guide tends not to work so well on technical writing (where exact meaning is required).

  • Do you mean something like: He was very effusive in his praise. He gushily eulogized him as a hero. – Em1 Feb 14 '12 at 13:23
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    I'm not sure I see a repetition there. Was there an original that you had in mind that does have a redundancy? (Do you see how I did it in those two sentences? repetition and redundancy are near synonyms; I could have used either twice, but stylistically it sounds better using the two different ones. Did you think 'effusive' and 'gushily' are synonyms? 'gushily' is not really a good sounding word; 'gushingly' is probably an actual word. Aside from the grating semantic discordance of a 'gushing eulogy' (the guy's dead, no need to be so festive about it), correct, you wouldn't use 'effusively'. – Mitch Feb 14 '12 at 14:02
  • Ok, I get it. This examples helped me. Is gushy excessively effusive, isn't it? If so, I can use it alternatively. I just didn't know that eulogy implies that the person is dead. I thought this means could be dead. – Em1 Feb 14 '12 at 15:07
  • 'Gushy' is in the same area as 'effusive' but has connotations of ...it's in a more informal register, and that can make it different enough (but also possibly not usable in this context). As to implication of death, I've always taken a eulogy to be associated with death, and whether 'is' or 'could be', it is inclined towards the solemn rather than festive. – Mitch Feb 14 '12 at 17:13

There is no problem with repetition in English if it makes the meaning clear. There are several possibilities. Here are just two:

The professor supervises not only those students working on their Bachelor theses but those working on their Master theses as well.

The professor supervises students working on their Bachelor and Master theses.

  • Yeah, the first example you gave sounds terrible to me. I know that this is possible but I would never, never phrase it like that. I prefer the succinct sentences. :) – Em1 Feb 14 '12 at 9:33
  • Well this is just playing with words Barrie and you have missed the example with"... both Bachelor and Master theses.","not only their Bachelor but their Master theses too" and ect. – speedyGonzales Feb 14 '12 at 9:46

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