I am non-native english speaker, and I just realized that I use expression like this a lot "what the deal with is that he is too laid-back and reckless". I just checked on the internet and I did not find any links corresponding to this particular expression. So I am wondering whether it is a even a valid expression?

I guess it is same as "what I want to do" or "what I have in my mind"

  • 1
    If you want to use this expression, your syntax is off. Try "The deal with him is that he is too..." or "His deal is that he is too...". Someone's deal is their problem or troublesome aspect.
    – Joe
    Dec 17, 2012 at 17:29
  • Just like you'd say "His problem is that he is too ...", you'd have to say "What the deal with him is is that he is too ...", and that would be extremely confusing (two identical words in a row). So say "His deal is ..." Dec 17, 2012 at 17:41
  • 4
    (No, what your sposta say is "What the deal with him is, is that ...":-) Dec 17, 2012 at 17:56
  • 2
    @JohnLawler That's very formal. Colloquial would be “‘adeal withis bozo zeezdoo ...” Stronger expressions may be substituted for bozo. :-) Dec 17, 2012 at 18:11
  • 2
    I don't really see that even a grammatically valid version of "what the deal with is that" is even worth saying at all. It doesn't really mean anything in such contexts. I think a non-native speaker would be better advised to just forget it. Dec 17, 2012 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


Perhaps you omitted “him” from your search, as you did in the body of your question (but not your title). A Google search on “the deal with him is” yields lots of hits.

“The deal with [so-and-so]” is a very common colloquial expression meaning approximately “the matter to be addressed concerning [so-and-so]” or “the matter which troubles me concerning [so-and-so]” or “the underlying fact concerning [so-and-so]”. Here are a few examples, from the Google search I just described:

  • Omg whats the deal with him? is it flirting? —a woman asks how to interpret a man’s behaviour.
  • [Q:]What is the deal with this guy? [...] whenever he is going against me, i just get destroyed. [A:] Basically the deal with him is hes really tanky and puts out a lot of burst damage —a videogamer asks how to cope with a powerful opponent.
  • Ok here's the deal with him. Is he easy- yes. Is he one of the dullest teachers and least prepared I've ever met=- yes. —post rating a history professor

Such “deals” need not be with people; you can speak of “the deal with” any topic of concern:

  • [Q:] I'm used to micromanaging everything in my machine [... ] my hardest challenge will just letting go and let the Mac do whatever magic it does [A:] This is not a thing. The deal with Macs is just that they tend not to cast support files to the 4 winds in complex installation routines.

It’s a useful expression, but not one I would recommend promoting to the formal register.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.