How to use the word “risk”

Common Mistakes in Business English

Consider the following:

There is a potential risk that the Company may refuse to satisfy your demand.

Almost every time I read the word “risk” I have to correct how it is used. This is usually because it is preceded by the word “potential”.

“Potential risk” is a tautology. All risk, by its nature, is potential. Potentiality is inherent in the word “risk” and does not need to be repeated.

In the same way you should avoid using phrases like “there may be a risk”, “there might be risk” or “there could be a risk”. The word “risk” includes the notion of possibility, and combining it with “may”, “might” or “could” is redundant.

Instead you should say “there is a risk” or “there will be a risk”.

So the above sentence should read:

There is a risk that the Company

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