I wrote a technical article in which I used (probably overused) constructions of the form "The main point is that...", "The problem is that...". As I am a native Italian speaker, these sentences have the natural form that I would use in my language. One of the reviewers suggested that a better way to formulate these sentences in English is "As the main point,...", "As the problem,...". I feel these sentences carry "less power" than my original ones since the main word is not the subject anymore. Any thoughts? Is the construction I used incorrect, inelegant, or good English? Thank you

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    I definitely like "The main point is .." better than "As the main point, ..". The latter adds nothing except extra words, and as you said weakens the assertion.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 23, 2015 at 18:36
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    @ScotM But the the is still there? It's just that as was added in front of it, making the the second word, rather than the first. But I agree with you that the as tends to diminish or background the the, to the point that it's almost unnoticeable, and combined with making a forceful copula into an independent clause (i.e. forcing the use of that odious little comma), I think the "recommended" version sucks the life and thrust out of the sentence. I do not like it, Sam I Am.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 23, 2015 at 19:00
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    I agree wholeheartedly with the style consideration: Leading with As leaves the with diminished emphasis. Try it! Try it! You will see! ;-)
    – ScotM
    Jun 23, 2015 at 19:12
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    So he is suggesting you change, for example, "The main point is that our prices are the best." to "As the main point, our prices are the best.", which, unless I'm mistaken, equals "Our prices are the best as the main point.". To me that sentence makes no sense at all. Am I missing something?
    – Avon
    Jun 23, 2015 at 19:16
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    Perhaps all your reviewer wanted was sentence variety. As you said you may have overused the form "The main point is." Try this: if I keep saying this is the heart of what I'm saying, that could mean I have a better way of writing what I just wrote. Hey, in a natural conversation, I do that - but in writing, standards are higher. So I'd spell out my main point without saying here is the main point. May 14, 2020 at 0:02

2 Answers 2


"The main point is that ...", "The problem is that ..." are perfectly fine. The alternatives you mentioned are inferior, if not incorrect. The Corpus of Contemporary American English returns 2391 results for "the problem is that", while it only gives 124 results for "as the problem", none of which are used in the style that you (or to be exact, the reviewer) suggested.


Corpus of Contemporary American English

  • I agree with this answer, and I'd add that simply removing "that" also makes the sentence worse rather than better. Keep your original wording; reviewers are not infallible. Jul 28, 2016 at 5:15
  • "Amercian" -- two of the same typos in this answer Sep 16, 2019 at 2:29

Agree with Masoud-Ata that your constructions are fine.

Some times (many times?) the word "that" can be left out of a sentence with no harm. Sometimes, "that" is unnecessary and leaving it out can actually make a sentence cleaner. If you have strict word counts for a paper, eliminating "that"s can help stay within limits. And sometimes "that" is overused and causes the writing to sound repetitive.

But just because "that" is often optional does not mean that it is always prohibited. Some people are given the advice of avoiding "that" in school, and they take it as a hard-and-fast rule rather than the stylistic advice that it really is. I suspect your reviewer may be one of these overly-concrete people who demand that if "that" could be taken out, then it must be taken out. (I've worked with one or two myself!)

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