Redundancy in sentences



In this newspaper article on sentence phrasing in a primary school (Grade 3) science examination, this question came up:

WHAT is the difference between a bird and a lion? If your answer is "the bird has feathers but the lion does not", your answer would have been marked as incorrect for the Primary 3 science paper.

The correct answer prescribed by the teacher was: "The bird has feathers but the lion does not have feathers."

Is the teacher wrong to state that the sentence must contain the redundant "have feathers"? If so, what grammatical/stylistic rule does this redundancy violate, and if not, why not?

March Ho

Posted 2015-02-05T16:19:45.793

Reputation: 269



Mr. Khoon (the author of the article) is correct. The teacher is incorrect.

The non-redundant phrasing is unambiguous. It is also more formal than the redundant phrasing.


Posted 2015-02-05T16:19:45.793

Reputation: 23 316

2In America, this sort of instructor stupidity causes children to lose respect for teachers. Fortunately, America has a culture that respects people based on their individual effort, loyalty, and competence. I am told that Singapore's culture expects more unconditional respect for authority. Does Singapore's culture expect authority figures to take pains to be correct? – Jasper – 2015-02-05T16:50:20.513

2I'll just add that in primary education, redundancy is enforced as a tool in comprehension. In this case, the teacher is clearly wrong from a grammatical standpoint: redundancy is not needed, thus his 'correction' of the student is also wrong. However, in teaching through repetition the teacher is acting appropriately. Humans in general learn through repetition, especially children (e.g. Japanese practicing repetitive writing of Kanji). – Chris Cirefice – 2015-02-06T02:27:19.320