The expression “return back,” wrongly used though appears to have gained currency over time. The frequency has endured to the annoyance of the English pragmatists. The intension could easily be understood to convey the idea of telling someone to come or go back to a place. The verb “return” doesn’t require any attachment or extra baggage to make sense or drive home the message. Many writers, journalist or reporters in attempt to indulge in long winding statements, or to prove how well grounded they are in the language of mass communication go the extra mile to write or speak of “return back” which amount to overkill or plainly put, tautology. We have discussed this burning issue of fusing together words that normally should stand alone and still make the desired impact. The masters and purists of the language are never tired of correcting these anomalies.
The verb “return” as earlier mentioned, and according to the Oxford dictionary of current English, is a fixed statement and need not to be dressed or tainted with the adverb “back.” It is a no, no, to write or verbalise, “return back” when we mean to imply to go back to a particular state of our being or activity. One can correctly write or speak, “Mama Nkechi returned Papa Nkechi generosity with a warm embrace.” It is a misnomer to write or speak “Mama Nkechi returned back Papa Nkechi generosity with a warm embrace.” Similarly, the adverb “back” can be used instead of the verb return,” moving in the opposite direction from that which a person is facing or travelling, quoting from the Oxford dictionary of current English. The word “return” could also mean giving or putting something back in response to a feeling or an action. Be mindful of tautology as you communicate the language to be understood. Another classical example how casual and lackadaisical we treat the language, is the over recycled phrase, for instance, “Ngozi says she will return back to Nigeria from London tomorrow.
” Notice how the “return back” statement appears harmless whereas one implies the same thing over again in different words, regarded by the language experts as a fault of style. Be on the watch out and don’t let some of these redundant and boring expressions take the shine off your well thought out scripts or write ups, even in the spoken word where mistakes are bound to occur but can be easily overlooked. Not so in the written word. But then don’t assume that all is well, that is where expert advice comes handy. Consult the authorities or even available reference materials when in doubt. Also, be careful not to be deceived by these phrases still in the family of the over hyped tautology “return back.” Avoid them as one avoid the raging furnace otherwise you get your fingers burnt if not the whole body. “Revert back” and “reward back” just as we have it in the “return back” anomaly, so is the verb “revert.” Some may be tempted to speak or write “revert back.” “Revert,” the dictionary explains, is to return to a previous state. Rather than write “revert back,” simply put it the other way and correctly too “turn back” to avoid being caught in the web of tautology. The noun “reward,” is a complete statement never add “back.”