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I have heard someone say in a conversation, "Well, my point being,,,". As an English learner, I was puzzled but assumed that it was roughly the same as saying "My point is that..." or "Here's my point:"

Even if my guess was right, the phrase strikes me as a bit odd. Can anyone elaborate on the meaning/usage/gramatical explanation of this phrase?

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I don't know why people are downvoting this. I did my research, and could not find any entry in any dictionary I have access to, including urbandictionary.com. –  knsmr Sep 3 '12 at 19:23
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The downvote may have been because you didn't report on your research, or it may have been because the reader didn't see a "real" question. Some won't; don't fret about it! –  StoneyB Sep 3 '12 at 19:32
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Showing results of research in the question is basic site etiquette. –  MετάEd Sep 3 '12 at 19:35
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Ok, I should have included the comment here in the question. –  knsmr Sep 3 '12 at 19:41
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@XavierVidalHernández- 'my point being' is notorious for introducing theories of any sort. I don't think that people who introduce "crackpot" theories decide to use or not use my point being based on the theory being presented, nor do I believe that people who are introducing valid, demonstrable theories avoid its use. –  Jim Sep 3 '12 at 20:29
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5 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

From The last will and testament of Gen. George Washington (1800)...

... my intention being, that all accounts between them and me ... shall stand balanced.

Note that words like intention, meaning, reason, point all overlap in various contexts. And as this 1727 instance shows, point has been around with this reason, argument sense for a long time.

Presumably what OP finds "odd" is the word being, in a construction where the more obvious verb form would simply be is. To be fair, Robert Noggle at Central Michigan University also says "the reason being [some reason]" is somehow invalid (he certainly doesn't like it), and maybe there are others who feel the same. But I disagree - it seems like perfectly standard English to me.

Arguably in some contexts the present continuous "being" emphasises the ongoing nature of whatever is being referenced more than simple present "is". For example, "My point being that X" could imply some "insistent" sense of "My point continues to be / has always been that X".

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It looks an absolute construction.

Among the modifiers that we use to add information to our sentences, the absolute phrase is probably the least used and the least understood. In form, the absoute is a noun phrase—a noun headword with a postnoun modifier; it adds a focusing detail to the idea of the whole sentence.

Here is a description I found from the web:

"Being" (accompanied by its sidekick "point" or not) is often employed in an absolute construction attached to a complete sentence. As such, it is acceptable. For instance, we might write: "The legislators went ahead and passed the measure, the expectation BEING that they knew the governor would veto the bill in any case." The absolute construction misfires, however, when it is not properly connected to another sentence and it's left hanging out there as a fragment. The point being that you don't want to do that. (See?) This is not say, however, that fragments are always an evil thing; sometimes and occasionally, they serve a stylistic purpose (usually drawing attention to themselves). From Here

Wikipedia Article

Here's a good description of use.

Or 'being that' could possibly be used like a compound conjunction. For more on that, see Swan. In that case, it is used interchangeably with because and since.

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I ordinarily hear this at the end of longer utterances as a summary of what the speaker has been saying. Think of it as preceded by a dash: "... yada, yada, yada—my point being that &c".

I've occasionally heard it at the beginning of an utterance, where speaker A is responding to speaker B's objection to A's preceding argument. In effect, A reasserts his own previous argument, implying that B has missed the point A was trying to make. Here it generally has an argumentative tone, and often a somewhat whiney one.

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This is related to various gerund constructions such as:

  • The economy being so bad and all, the company downsized.

  • Seeing that the man was in distress, he called for help.

  • Having seen that movie before, Bob changed the channel.

  • His point ultimately being the same as that of the familiar penny-wise-pound-foolish proverb, Jack told an incredibly long-winded and boring personal anecdote.

There is a subordinate clause based on a gerund which gives additional explanation to the main clause. The order can be rearranged, for instance:

  • The company downsized, the economy being so bad and all.

  • He called for help, seeing that the man was in distress.

  • Bob changed the channel, having seen that movie before.

  • Jack told an incredibly long-winded and boring personal anecdote, his point ultimately being the same as that of the familiar penny-wise-pound-foolish proverb.

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As an ESL instructor, I agree with Robert Noggle that it's not very good-sounding English. From a historical point of view, the phrase point being was likely formed on analogy with reason being. Both of them somehow get an extra is sometimes, as in "The point being, is that ..." or "the reason being, is that ...". It's likely that the phrase reason being is a translation of the French phrase raison d'être, which means "reason for existing". As such, it would have originally made sense to say "My reason being is to study language!" meaning "My reason for being [the reason I exist] is to study language!". Somehow we forgot the original meaning and let it spread to other words.

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