The Grammarphobia Blog

Just because you’re you

Q: My pet peeve: “The reason is because!” Very few speakers use the proper construction. It drives me up a wall!

A: The construction is widely considered to be poor usage, but it’s a no-no that’s widely committed. Usage experts frown on it (and I see that you do too!).

“Because” is primarily a conjunction, and it’s used in the same sense as “since” or “for the reason that.” So a sentence like “The reason is because he’s an only child” is considered redundant.

Since “for the reason that” is built into the word “because,” you’re just repeating yourself. It’s like saying “the reason is for the reason that he’s an only child.”

Sometimes, however, people assume that it’s wrong to use ANY construction with “is because,” as in: “That is because he’s an only child.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

It also wouldn’t be unusual to use “is for the reason that” in the same way (“That is for the reason that he’s an only child”). A bit wordy, but correct usage.

And it wouldn’t be unusual to use “is because of” (as in “That is because of his age”). The phrase “because of” acts as a preposition, and it’s used in the same sense as “on account of” or “by reason of.”

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