In the following sentence I think the use of the word former is superfluous.

Mr. Malik was the former Governor of Bihar before he was shifted to Jammu and Kashmir. He was also given the additional charge of Odisha for a brief period in 2018.


Because former and before used in the sentence mean the same thing.

  • 1
    Yep, not needed.
    – Lambie
    Oct 26 '19 at 16:34
  • There is no question in your post, but I agree with your statement.
    – TypeIA
    Oct 26 '19 at 16:41

The word former is actually wrong here, not superfluous.

Here is the sequence of events:

  1. 2017–2018: Mr. Malik was the Governor of Bihar.

  2. 2018–today: Mr. Malik was the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.

  3. Today: Mr. Malik became the Governor of Goa.

The word former is wrong because it indicates that Mr. Malik had already ceased being the Governor of Bihar ("the former Governor") at the time when he was shifted to Jammu and Kashmir.

However, superfluous redundancy is not always bad. Redundancy can be good. In this case, it helps to add something to help the reader sort out this sequence of three governorships (and maybe a fourth in Odisha; that seems complicated). Here is a good way to add this redundancy:

Mr. Malik was formerly the Governor of Bihar before he was shifted to Jammu and Kashmir.

This part of the news story provides background for the main story. The word formerly is a conventional way to describe offices previously held by someone when giving background about them.

  • Thanks to TypeIA for correcting a big mistake in a previous version of this answer!
    – Ben Kovitz
    Oct 27 '19 at 6:41

Ordinarily, I'd expect Mr. Malik is the former Governor of Bihar. But that clashes with the adverbial clause before he was [moved elsewhere], since at that time (before being moved), he was the incumbent Governor, not a former holder of the office.

It's quite possible the writer originally used is + former before deciding to add that conflicting adverbial clause, and subsequent "proof-reading" was less than perfect.

But it's not the kind of thing native speakers would particularly notice unless they were looking for errors (calling attention to it smacks of pedantic "nit-picking"). My advice would be to treat this as a very minor "lapse" (don't copy it, but don't get worked up about it either).

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