A common error is to say the reason is because instead of the reason is that. Is there an attested or unattested term for this kind of error? (I'll leave it open exactly what kind of error it is.)

(Or, if you insist, is there, on the controversial assumption that this is in fact an error, a term for its kind? Please do not take this question as an invitation to attack this assumption.)


The reason is because (as previously queried on ELU in that link) is a form of redundancy (perhaps tautology, pleonasm), because the reason and because both convey the sense of why, what causes something to be the case.

Pedants will thus say you should use either the reason is X or [it] is because X, but not both. But many native speakers routinely ignore such advice - it's certainly not universally considered an "error".

  • As far as I can see, this explanation would also apply to the reason why, which, I think, is not erroneous.
    – Toothrot
    Sep 13 '19 at 12:40
  • @Toothrot: So you think extending The reason is X to The reason why is X is "okay", but you're not happy about extending it to The reason is because X. I can't really see that argument. Sep 13 '19 at 12:47
  • I think it's more complicated than that.
    – Toothrot
    Sep 13 '19 at 12:50
  • Well, yes. Here's a link to an extended discussion in Webster's Dictionary of English Usage concerning the usage the reason is because. Which they point out was used by Bacon, Swift, Hemmingway,... (as they dryly put it, not bad company for a writer). But essentially it's all just a matter of (potentially changing over time) idiomacy. Sep 13 '19 at 12:58
  • 1
    Note that I'm trying not to go overboard "attacking your assumption" that the usage is in fact an error. But it's not. I can't get to the next page of that link myself, but they've obviously said most of what they have to say on the page as linked. Sep 13 '19 at 13:14

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