Friday, January 25, 2013

More Word Choices (Part 2 of 7)

What's the Reason Why?

The question above may sound correct and the reason why is because we hear and see it all the time. It's incorrect because one word is redundant. That is, the two words say the same thing.

Or we sometimes say it this way: The reason is because . . . which is also redundant.

The reason why I didn't come to your house is because I was sick.

Reason, why, and because all mean the same thing.

I didn't come to your house because I was sick.

Here's another one. At a coffee shop they listed their beverages, including seventeen different kinds of coffee, six flavors of tea, and nine of chai tea. The word chai comes from Sanskrit and a number of languages in the East, Middle East, and Africa use chai. Thus to ask for chai tea is to say, "I want tea tea."

I say it once.


  1. Thank you, Cec. The problem is, to add to the confusion, even reputable sources like the Chicago Manual of Style says "reason why" is perfectly acceptable.

    "reason why. Although some object to the supposed redundancy of this phrase, it is centuries old and perfectly acceptable English. And reason that is not always an adequate substitute."

    I'm afraid this isn't going away anytime soon.

  2. Adam's correct about the ubiquitous use of "the reason why." Writers will continue to use it. It's still redundant. I contend that careful writers avoid such terms. I'd also cut it out because it's a cliché. Serious writers continually seek better ways to communicate. That alone should be reason enough to dump the term.

  3. Picking on the Chai tea component only:

    I suppose this can be likened to the southerners word for pop. (Coke). My teen daughter said she once heard a southerner ask another person what kind of coke they wanted. The person answered, Pepsi coke. Okey dokey.
    As a tea drinker, I prefer to read Chai tea because it creates a distinct picture, even taste in my mind from the single word "tea". Plain, regular tea is boring. There are distinct teas for each moment. :)

    Enjoy reading this series, rarely spurred to spar...had to today.


What are your thoughts?