I have this sentence:

The problem is he is very stingy with his money.

But I feel it sounds weird or even wrong with the two ises so close. Is the sentence structure grammatical? If it isn't, how to fix it?

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    The sentence is perfectly fine. Nothing wrong with it. It wouldn't sound weird to anyone. That said, if for your own personal reasons you want to avoid saying "is" twice, you could try using a contraction: "The problem is that he's very stingy" or "The problem's that he is very stingy", or even "The problem's that he's very stingy." (it's not necessary to say "with his money", because the word "stingy" carries that meaning by default; though saying "stingy with his money" is perfectly fine, and even lends some emphasis). – Dan Bron Aug 23 '14 at 11:55
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    @DanBron I think you're right ... missing that because after the first is, the rest is a complete sentence. that is necessary to join. – SrJoven Aug 23 '14 at 11:59
  • @SRJoven, I think it would scan better with a "that", but I don't believe it's necessary. The sentence works fine as it is. – Dan Bron Aug 23 '14 at 12:02
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    Agreed with @Dan. The that isn’t necessary, but it makes the sentence flow better and would probably rarely be left out by a native speaker. I admit, though, that I find the versions with contracted problem’s quite jarring—ungrammatical, actually. As I’ve argued elsewhere, stressed verbs cannot be contracted, and it seems that a relative clause stands outside the predicate stress slot, leaving the is after problem here as the sole element in the mandatory stress slot. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 23 '14 at 12:23
  • @Janus, depends on the register, IME. I have and do, in real life, say "The problem's...", but it would be a rare day that you caught me writing it (except perhaps in an IM or other really informal context). – Dan Bron Aug 23 '14 at 12:27

It's perfectly grammatically correct.

The problem is just that: you repeat the word "is".

It's that simple.

It's a commonplace in English, say speechwriting or advertising writing (I mean say for radio or TV voiceovers), that you don't repeat a word in a sentence or, really, in a passage, and particularly not close.

Here you have two "is"s very close, so it sounds awkward. It's that simple.

(AND INDEED, he/his are almost the same word - that's another repeat.)

The solution is this simple:

The problem is this: he's very stingy with money.

The problem is: he's very stingy with money.

or any other combo.

{Note - it goes without saying there are many other situations where, for emphasis, for drama, because you are Winston Churchill, etc, you repeat a word closely. Say ... "May the luck be with the player." .. repeating the "the" sounds cool and dramatic there. But in the example at hand, it's simple: the sentence sounds lousy since you have (indeed two different) close repeats.}

  • hey @DanBron - I just realised in your first comment, you (like me above) explained the actual issue here. perhaps U should have just made it an answer, dude .. – Fattie Aug 23 '14 at 18:12

Not sure how correct it is right now; is it just me or does it need a comma? Like so: "The problem is, he is very stingy with his money."

I know for sure that "The problem is that he is very stingy with his money." is correct though.

  • Hi and welcome to ELU. Please only provide an answer that you are sure and you can provide reliable resources for. Your answer doesn't seem to be that helpful to this question. – Neeku Aug 23 '14 at 14:13
  • Your 'answer' is a valuable 'comment' (Neeku explains why it shouldn't be posted as an 'answer'). – Edwin Ashworth Aug 23 '14 at 22:25
  • I'd include a comma (or colon). Martha Kolln advises the following: 4) When an introductory adverbial element seems to modify the entire sentence and not just the verb or some single element in the rest of the sentence [ie this is a pragmatic marker (in this case showing the speaker's attitude towards the matter) rather than a true adverbial function] put a comma after it.... thus 'Sadly, the old church was completely destroyed.' [cf 'The sad situation is, the old church was completely destroyed]. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 23 '14 at 22:35

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