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Past history and future plans

There are phrases that have worked their way into our language, settled in, and took up residence. They're harmless, andf in a way quite efficient, so I'm not here to criticize, but simply to point out that we use a lot of words we don't need to use, and continue to diminish and dull our conversation by avoiding the right word.

"Past history" is, of course, redundant. The only history we know is that which occurred—in the past.  Despite the Moody Blues' famous and tradition-shattering album from long ago, Days Of Future Passed, our tenses and memories are simpler than that. I guess I could say our past memories, but the memories themselves are current—only the items recollected are in the past. Days in the future ,of course, will eventually have passed, and that's one of the reasons we make future plans, or as I like to call them—plans.

But sometimes we must admit that the redundancy works. Say for example you're at a retirement party in the pandemic-free future, and you take the retiree aside and say, "have any plans?" That sounds like an invitation to go out for a drink, or a coffee, or something more provocative, whereas "have any future plans" seems to indicate a curiosity in what the person will do with life after retirement. 

In an episode of classic television comedy "All in the Family," Edith Bunker meets a high school classmate who asks what she did after graduation and Edith responds by telling him what she did—the night of graduation. Sometimes even the most expertly-phrased question can elicit the most ineptly-phrased answer.

So yes, past history could be wrong-ish, as could future plans, but don't worry—just let it go if it happens at some future time, or as I like to say, later.

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