What pleonasms does Spanish grammar allow?

The repetition or exaggerated use of a word is known in Spanish grammar as redundancy or pleonasm. Keep reading to learn examples of permitted pleonasms.

If we look at the RAE, redundancy in Spanish is “the repetition or excessive use of a word or concept”. If we want to be more technical, we will use the term pleonasm, which is “the use in a sentence of one or more words that are unnecessary for it to make complete sense”.

The Spanish language uses redundancies regularly, especially in those regions or countries where they like to resort to exaggeration in speech, such as in Andalusia or Venezuela, where you will hear “que valga la redundancia” (excuse the repetition) often. The Spanish Academy allows the use of some redundancies that enrich the language and have been included in the daily life of Spanish speakers.

Spanish RAE, what is going on?

Sube para arriba (‘go up upwards’) or baja para abajo (‘go down downwards’). Can you imagine yourself subiendo para abajo (going up downwards) o bajando para arriba (going down upward)? We can always defy the laws of physics to try it! The RAE allows us to use pleonasms in the oral and colloquial speech of the Spanish language if we use these resources with expressive or emphatic value but advises us to avoid them in written texts.

Lo vi con mis propios ojos (I saw it with my own eyes) and lo escuché con mis propias orejas (I heard it with my own ears)

Here we have two examples of expressive pleonasm, so they are correct. How strange it is to use these expressions when in theory you cannot see through someone else’s eyes or hear with their ears. But… Is this true? Well… let’s ask people who are blind or deaf, they will tell you that they do see through their guide dogs or are able to hear when someone interprets sign language for them!

What’s more, have you ever travelled through the eyes of a friend? Many of our friends send us photos of their journeys and share them with us.

You cannot go in without cita previa (a prior appointment)

There is nothing wrong with this “presumed pleonasm” as it may provide new nuances. All appointments are prior appointments, but by prior appointment, we mean appointments made in advance and through a non-direct channel, such as the telephone or the Internet. If you meet your colleague, you have an appointment, but it obviously does not have the nuance of a prior appointment.

How do you know if you are using a pleonasm, or you are just emphasising?

The use of pleonasms depends on the ironic character of the speaker, but we should not take for granted what does not belong to us, as in the incorrect pleonasm casualidad imprevista (unforeseen chance), which has no emphatic or stylistic value. We all know that “chance” is a circumstance that cannot be foreseen. In iScribo we advise you to follow the logic of your brain and then, little by little, you will learn all the details that will allow you to master Spanish grammar. With the help of our grammar checker, you will learn how to use the pleonasms that are allowed. Try it today!

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