Look at these examples to see some different ways to avoid repetition in a text:
The composition of chimpanzee muscle was found to differ from that of humans, which explains their greater strength.
Featuring holes at an altitude of 2,895m, it is the only such golf course in the world.
Some birds can find their way without any landmarks, and we still don't know for sure how they do so.
Growing numbers of people are buying food that is grown without artificial chemicals. The popularity of organic produce is …
Try this exercise to test your grammar.
- Grammar test 1
Read the explanation to learn more.
We commonly use words like it, this/these, that/those, such and do so, as well as synonyms, to avoid repetition. This can make a text shorter, easier to understand and more interesting.
It, this and that in texts
It, this/these and that/those can all be used to refer to something that has just been mentioned or that has been mentioned previously.
It is used to refer to something we are already talking or writing about, with no particular emphasis.
We watched the latest episode last night. It was OK, but not nearly as good as the previous ones.
This (or these) is more emphatic and often shows that something is new or interesting. This often signals that more is about to be said about the topic.
More funding has been approved for primary schools in the area. This does not, however, solve the problem faced by …
That (or those) is also more emphatic than it and is used in a similar way to this. However, that suggests greater distance. For example, we can use that to distance ourselves from a particular idea:
They're idiots! … OK, sorry, maybe that was unfair.
A: I refuse to do this any more!
B: I understand you're upset, but I think that's going a bit too far.
Or that/those can refer to an idea mentioned further back in the text:
A classic mistake inexperienced hikers make is to pack things they don't really need. Such items can include shoes, extra toiletries and electronics.
(two paragraphs later)Those extra kilos of weight are soon left behind as hikers learn to reduce what they carry to a minimum.
That/those is also chosen over this/these to suggest greater physical distance:
Scientists believe that some animals may use the Earth's magnetic fields to find their way from A to B, even if that B is thousands of miles away.
That and those meaning 'the one(s)'
In more formal English, that and those can be used to mean 'the one' or 'the ones'. They are often followed by of and are used in this way to avoid repetition.
We compared our experience to that of a group of teenagers. (that = the experience)
They obtained better exam results than those of the same year group in other schools.
(those = the exam results)
Those who means 'the people who'.
She was among those who voted for the policy.
Those who are unable to attend the event in person are invited to view it online.
Such meaning 'of this or that type'
In more formal English, such can be used to refer back to the type previously mentioned.
Some species of ants can find their way using the memory of how many steps they have taken.
Such navigation methods are actually fairly basic compared with others in the animal world. (such navigation methods = methods of that type)
We can use such in this way before a/an + single noun or before a plural or uncountable noun. It is often used after expressions like no, the only, the few, the first, etc.
The library is free and open to the public 24 hours a day. It is the only such library in the city.
The group will meet once a month to report on progress. The first such meeting will be held in April.
Again, in more formal English, do so can be used to mean 'to behave in the way mentioned'. It is used to avoid repeating the verb.
Our company raised salaries, but few others in the sector did so.
Employees who have agreed to work overtime should be prepared to do so this month.
While some went vegan for the supposed health benefits, others reported doing so for ethical reasons.
A synonym is a word or phrase that has the same meaning as another word or phrase. We can use synonyms to avoid repetition.
Air pollution is a significant problem in many European capitals. Urgent action needs to be taken on this worrying issue.
Using synonyms can also make your writing more interesting and enjoyable.
Salmon use their sense of smell to travel back to the river where they were born. These aquatic homing missiles can travel hundreds of miles to return to their birthplace.
Do this exercise to test your grammar again.
- Grammar test 2