You Can Say That Again! Oh, You Did Say That Again: “Reason Why” Is So Wrong!

So many of us use the phrase—reason why—almost every day in casual conversation, in business communications, on job applications, in research papers, in emails, and even while tweeting, texting, instant messaging and so on!

I hear newscasters say it on television. I hear parents say it to their children in the grocery store when they’re explaining why a child can’t have a toy or a candy bar. I’ve heard teachers say it to their students when teaching a particular lesson. I’ve read it when enjoying a contemporary novel. There’s even a current hit song titled with this phrase.

I liken it to our society’s use of the word “ain’t.”

“Ain’t” became so prevalent in our common speak that in correcting the use of it, we were no longer able to say, “Don’t say “ain’t.” It “ain’t” in the dictionary!” Lo and behold, after so many years of its absence, “ain’t” finally appeared in the dictionary as a “slang” term.

I guess we wore “them” down, huh?

Although we can now find “ain’t” in the dictionary, many of us are aware that it’s still not a part of standard English. Let’s try to view “reason why” in the same light.

If “reason why” is as common as “ain’t,” why am I saying it’s not the best practice to use this phrase?

Just take my word for it. It isn’t.

No, I’m just kidding.

The reason it’s not the best practice to say “reason why” is because it’s redundant (needlessly wordy or repetitive in expression, according to one of the definitions on dictionary.com).

“Reason” and “why” mean the same thing in the context in which we use the phrase. Look at these three sentences:

I’m allergic to tomatoes, which is the reason why I don’t eat spaghetti with marinara sauce.

I’m allergic to tomatoes, which is the reason I don’t eat spaghetti with marinara sauce.

I’m allergic to tomatoes, which is why I don’t eat spaghetti with marinara sauce.

If you’re a student, writing a term/research paper, and you’ve got to find ways to pad your word count, many teachers/professors might not catch this redundancy (unless you use it redundantly; HA!).

If, however, you want to appear and/or sound as professional and astute as possible, try very hard to strike this phrase from your written and spoken vocabulary.

Even though I know it’s not the best speech practice, I still find myself reverting to it when I’m being careless while I speak. Although I’d love to say I have it licked, it ain’t easy breaking old habits.

Let’s work on it, OK? We’ll get there.

Can you think of any redundant phrases we use all the time? Add them to Comments.

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