Tips for Writers: She shrugged

shrug-gestureI frequently encounter this sentence in the work of both students and would-be contributors to my magazine: “She shrugged her shoulders.”

With student work, invariably I cross out “her shoulders” and write in the margins, “what other body parts can be shrugged?” With submissions to the magazine, you can guess what I do (usually).

The verb “to shrug” means “to raise and contract (the shoulders)” and thus adding shoulders as an object of shrug is, at best, redundant. (The expression “shrug off” is different, of course.)

 

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