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In a statement like

The weeds have grown overnight. The reason is because it rained yesterday

Is "the reason is because" good grammar? Isn't it better to say

The weeds have grown overnight because it rained yesterday

The second form seems simpler and the words the reason is seem to add nothing to the sentence. Is there any technical reason to avoid the longer form?

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I think both forms are correct. –  Gabriele Cirulli Jul 15 '11 at 11:01
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much lesser usage compared to "the reason is that" which is my preferred phrase –  JoseK Jul 15 '11 at 11:15
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The Oxford dictionaries have a discussion on the phrase the reason is because in the usage note for the word reason. They conclude that it's acceptable. –  Peter Shor Jul 16 '11 at 8:17

7 Answers 7

up vote 11 down vote accepted

"The reason is because..." is wrong; the other one is the one to go with.

That "the reason" is already explaining why, i.e. the reason, so putting also because will create a sort of redundancy.

See this article, which goes more in depth.

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Great reference, thanks Alenanno. It explains it so much better than I could. I had a feeling there was a kind of redundancy in there. –  pavium Jul 15 '11 at 11:21
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There is indeed redundancy. That does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong. –  Colin Fine Jul 15 '11 at 13:06
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@Colin I'm not sure I understood you but... Well, usually redundancy, unless you use it intentionally, is not really correct. –  Alenanno Jul 15 '11 at 14:12
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@Alenanno: so the redundancy in using "-s" with "he" is not really correct? And the redundancy of using the negative-polarity "any" with "not" is not really correct? And the redundancy in French of saying "le*s* bon*nes* jeune*s* fille*s*" is not really correct? Languages are full of redundancy. Some instances of it are required by the grammar of a language. Others pass without notice. Some are singled out by prescriptivists as "incorrect" . –  Colin Fine Jul 18 '11 at 14:37
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In my view "correct" is a term irrelevant to linguistics, except sociolinguistics. It is a judgment of fashion, like the "correct" fork to use. Is "the reason is because" acceptable? certainly. –  Colin Fine Jul 19 '11 at 10:12

I am going to disagree with both other answers here. I don't think there is anything grammatically wrong with either of the sentences:

The reason is because it rained yesterday.
The reason is that it rained yesterday.

I agree that this sentence sounds a lot better with that, in part because because is redundant. But consider:

The only good reason to go to graduate school in English is because you love it.
The only good reason to go to graduate school in English is that you love it.

In this case, I think because sounds superior to that. But don't these sentences have exactly the same grammatical structure? So how can the first one be ungrammatical and the second one grammatical? I think the reason because sounds better now is that there is a large gap between reason and because, which means that now the redundancy becomes useful rather than superfluous.

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"The event happened BECAUSE xxx", but "The reason that the event happened WAS xxx" –  James Jul 19 '11 at 17:34
    
Upvoting because the reason we have redundancy in language is to improve its reliability as a means of communication. –  FumbleFingers Jul 23 '11 at 14:23
    
I agree with you Peter, I too think your 'because' version sounds more natural. But the two sentence don't have quite the same structure. The problem is that the verb 'be' is a copular or linking verb, and theoretically you're not meant to use an adverbial clause (because...) after a copular verb. But a 'that' clause is OK because it's technically a noun clause. But then we're not meant to say 'It's me' either, but we all do. That's why I say theoretically. I'm with Colin Fine and Fumblefingers. –  RandomIdeaEnglish Aug 28 '11 at 19:12
    
@RandomIdeaEnglish: I agree. We do not say "the reason is because." Because starts ADV clauses. That starts NOUN clauses. Alenanno is also correct. "The reason is because" is redundant. (The same principle applies to "the reason why." We don't need the word why. It is redundant.) –  user13432 Sep 28 '11 at 1:37
    
I agree the first of your 2nd pair is better, but I think your reason isn't exactly the right one. It's because that phrasing invites us split off the introductory "The only good reason to...", leaving the advisory maxim "Go to graduate school in English [is] because you love it (not for other reasons)". Which I can't actually parse anyway - did you mean "in England"? –  FumbleFingers Jan 21 '12 at 15:13

I think "The reason is that it rained yesterday" would be more appropriate. "The reason is because" does not seem to make much logical sense.

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This echoes my feelings about the reason is because. I tend to overuse the word that, but in some cases it seems right –  pavium Jul 15 '11 at 11:16

In ‘The Penguin Guide to Plain English’, Harry Blamires describes ‘the reason is because’ as ‘causational overkill’. You can see what he means, but my impression is that in BrEng, at least, ‘the reason is because’ is used at least as much as ‘the reason is that’.

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I see no evidence in NGram that Brits are any more likely than Americans to use reason is because rather than reason is that. Big difference from my point of view is we're more likely to say the usage is gormless, where Americans might call it something like dorky. –  FumbleFingers Jan 21 '12 at 15:04
    
@FumbleFingers: It's always worth remembering that nGrams records written, not spoken, language. I mentioned BrEng, only because I don't hear much AmEng. –  Barrie England Jan 21 '12 at 15:33
    
Oh absolutely. I certainly wouldn't significantly disparage anyone for saying things like this - I set the bar a lot lower for speech. But that doesn't imply people who don't already know "correct" usage should learn to "talk improper". I think many people trying to learn "normal" usage here on ELU are misled by answers/comments endorsing usages which really shouldn't be encouraged. And that's notwithstanding the fact that, like you, I don't really do "correct" in general. Sloppy language isn't exactly a cardinal sin, but it shouldn't be overly encouraged - especially on ELU. –  FumbleFingers Jan 21 '12 at 15:43
    
@FumbleFingers: 'Setting the bar lower' for speech makes it sound as if spoken langauge is in some way inferior to written language, but that's perhaps not what you meant. I hear many people whose speech is above reproach say 'the reason is . . .because', to the extent that it is now 'normal usage'. The problem with a site like ELU is in knowing who it's for. I don't regard it as being primarily for foreign learers of English, although I'm happy to help them where I can. –  Barrie England Jan 21 '12 at 15:57
    
Yes, I'd like to think ELU is primarily for "competent speakers" to explore the intricacies of (spoken & written) usage. But undeniably (esp of late) there are many "beginners" whose main exposure is to speech and "social network" postings. I don't think speech is "inferior" in any meaningful sense - I just mean many people have a tendency to ignore/downplay "correct" usage in such contexts. I often write things in Comments (hopefully not Answers) here on ELU that I myself would decry (or at least, not defend) in less "ephemeral" written contexts. –  FumbleFingers Jan 21 '12 at 16:46
  1. The reason is because... "X".

  2. The reason is that... "X".

The phrase "the reason is" implies a causal relationship between two events or states. For example the reason that the wagon is red is that I painted it with red paint. The wagon being red is caused by my painting it. I could also say the wagon is red because I painted it. Cause: I painted; effect: it is red.

So If I say, “the reason is because,” what I really am saying is that the cause of there being a reason is that I painted it. This is akin to saying, “I painted the wagon and that is why it is red because I painted it.”

So, indeed No. 1 is a redundancy, a grammatical error, and a logical violation. Much like saying “ATM machine” – (a machine that makes ATMs I suppose), or that something “is comprised of” its constituent parts. But I suppose those are separate topics.

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If you say "The reason...is because" you are redundant. "The reason" is another way to say "because." Also, I think it is incorrect to say "The reason why." This is because the question word "why" entices you to answer with "because," and it is grammatically incorrect to say "the reason...is because."

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If viewed in isolation, it is not a very smooth English phrase, though it is right grammatically. But this could be an answer to a very specific query, where the question was stressed on the word “reason”.

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