I often find myself and others using this type of sentence:

The real issue is that A,B, and C need to be fixed.

What happens underneath the hood is that A works like this and that

They attempt to emphasize the preceding subject (at least such is my understanding) and while there's nothing wrong with "is that" phrases grammatically , these phrases are verbose. Is there a way to restructure such sentence to make it more "active", less verbose, and more focused on the things being explained after "that is" part.

  • For one, that can be replaced by a comma without loss of meaning. – Kris Aug 28 '18 at 8:13
  • Restructuring/ rephrasing may be off topic here. – Kris Aug 28 '18 at 8:14

I wouldn't say that your sentences emphasize the preceding subject. (You don't actually provide a preceding subject in your examples.) Instead, the first part of each sentence serves to introduce the second part.

In both of your sentences, the first part is mostly extraneous. Each sentence could be shortened to be more direct by simply removing the first part altogether:

A, B, and C need to be fixed.
A works like this and that.

Phrases like "the real issue is that" and "what happens underneath the hood is that" may help with the style of the sentence, but they aren't adding anything to the essential meaning of what's going on.

They are similar to:

By all rights . . .
In other words . . .
If you look at it more closely . . .

If you're worried about your sentences being too "wordy," strip out these introductory phrases—then step back and ask yourself which sentences don't need them and which could benefit the surrounding text by having them.

You can also use shorter introductory phrases like but, in reality, however, and so on.

This is not to say that is that phrases should never be used, simply that they don't always need to be used.

  • So in short, one can either use other introductory phrases or abandon introducing altogether and focus on meaning in the clause after "that is" directly. – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Aug 29 '18 at 19:09
  • @SergiyKolodyazhnyy Exactly. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 29 '18 at 19:21

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