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The Reason Is…

Specify reason by grouping or moving content

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Cause-effect Statement vs. Cause (Reason) Statement


When we want to relate a cause and effect situation, we use — because, since, as, due to, for this reason — to relate a cause-clause to an effect-clause.  (That is not included in the cause-clause.)  


Jack hasn't found a job

because of¹

the weak economy.


on account of¹

the weak economy.


as a result of¹

the weak economy.


Jack hasn't found a job


the economy is weak.



the economy is weak.


due to the fact

the economy is weak.


for the reason that

the economy is weak.


"The reason is"  is used to create a kind of package which isolates the effect content so that emphasis can be placed on the cause at the end of the sentence. A for phrase or that-clause adds additional effect details.


The reason for not finding a job


the weak economy. (NP)

The reason  (that) he can't find a job


(that) the economy is weak.

The reason  why² he can't find a job


because of ² the economy.   


The problem


the weak economy. (NP)

The cause



(that) the economy is weak.

The disadvantage


(that) the economy is weak.

The point  


(that) the economy is weak.


¹ This expression is followed by a noun phrase.  See Because expressions.

² The usage the reason why is… or the reason is because… is repetitive, informal usage.

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.







The reason is…

With specifying vs. ascriptive be



Specifying be  vs. Ascriptive (describing) be


The verb be is specifying when it is complemented by a definite noun (a noun phrase or clause) that identifies the subject noun.  The elements before and after "be" may be interchanged without affecting meaning. Specifying be has the "reciprocal property".


The reason




money (N)

the reason.



the lack of money (NP)



(that) we can't afford it (CLS)



there (Adv/P)



to save money. (Inf.)



~ not having enough money. (Ger.)



~because we don't have enough money.  (ConnP)


The verb be is ascriptive when it is complemented by an adjective, adjective phrase or indefinite noun that states (describes) the quality or character of the subject-noun before it. Ascriptive be does not have the "reciprocal property ".             


The reason 

* Logical 


(not exchangeable)

logical (Adj)

the reason.


silly (Adj)


confusing. (participial modifier)


unfortunate but true (Adj-Adj)



a joke (indefinite noun)


a mystery (indefinite noun)



* the mystery. (definite noun)


afford (V) — have enough money to purchase something

ascriptive (Adj) — stating the quality or character of something or someone

reciprocal properby  (math) A=B and B=A;   A=B but B≠A  (are not exchangeable) The meaning is affected or illogical when the elements before and after are exchanged

* not used / ~ Some people consider the reason why is… or the reason is because… to be repetitive, informal usage.


N – noun; NP — noun phrase; ADJ —adjective; ADJP — adjective phrase

Also see Specifying vs. Ascriptive "be"  and Modifing Quantity Clauses with "Be"







Specifying Expressions

Be + That-clause

dog carrying


"Product Review" – reasons for and against


The advantage is (that) the dog owner can lift his dog in high water.

The disadvantage is that the dog may not find it comfortable

The benefit is that the dog gets assistance.

The drawback is that it doesn't fit dogs with long backs (dachshunds and corgis.)

The understanding is that the harness is a lifting device.

The trick is that you have to lift the dog exactly when it jumps (or the dog will hand mid-air.)

~ The good thing is  (informal) the harness is strong and will last a long time.

~ The thing is not every dog likes to be lifted.


The problem is that the fit may not be comfortable for every dog.


The concept is (that) the owner will have more control over the dog.

The reason is (that) dog owners want an easier way to take hold of their pet.

The current thinking is that dog owners are willing to pay for useful accessories.

The motivation is (that) harnesses are selling well and will make us money.

The feeling is (that) the harness should be a little more colorful to attract buyers.

The explanation is (that) a handle on a dog harness will provide a quick lifting device for the owner.

 The idea is (that) the handle helps the owner lift the dog. /  The idea is  to lift the dog.

 The result is (that) the owner will not have to bend down and pick up the dog when going up stairs.

The point is that this is a very useful training device and accessory. / The point is to make a useful device.

The solution is that we should make an affordable product. / The solution is to make an affordable product.


The thing is…, the thing that bothers me is… — used informally to refer to an important point or problem

The trick (N) — clever method

The feeling — the sentiment, regard, opinion

An infinitive is used after words that speculate about future potential The idea / point / solution / thing / trick is to…







Specifying Expressions

Article Use




Article use when expressing reason


Reason is

Speakers may drop the article in speech, but it is included in business and academic writing.

"Why are you changing the design?"

~ "Reason is the old design doesn't work well."  (informal)

A reason is

If there is more than one reason, a (one) reason may be mentioned in part.

A  reason for adding the touch screen is that it will make the phone thinner. 

Another reason is that it will be easier to use.

The reason is

If there is one primary reason, the reason is used.

The reason is that we had no other choice.

Their reason

Their reasoning is

The words above can be used with a personal possessive pronoun. 

Their reason is that it is the right thing to do.

Their reasoning is that it is the right thing to do.

reasoning (N) — thinking or understanding

*not used / ~ informal or special context required






Specifying Expressions

Prepositional Modifiers




The Reason followed by a prepositional phrase


When specifying a reason, solution, problem or important point, a prepositional phrase is commonly used to modify the noun. Choice of preposition may vary.                                    


The main reason for the crisis


that people spent more than they had. 

The logic for this


that one person's actions affect another person's earnings.  

The idea for this legislation 


that people will not manage themselves unless forced by law.

The concept for this idea 


that if people paid less in tax, they would have more money to spend. 

ON / ABOUT    

The current thinking on/ about that


that we all need to make changes.

The general feeling about the law


that it is unfair to the next generation.

The understanding (with them) on/ about that


that we will support their position if possible. 


The problem with overspending 


that it results in failure. 

The understanding with them 


that we will support each other in hard times.   


In conversation, we commonly use these expressions (1) to claim next-speaker rights (place holder), and (2) to give us a moment to mentally compose the rest of the sentence after is.


The point of this conversation


that we all need to make changes.

The disadvantage of this method


that it is more complex.

The benefit of this


that everyone wins.

The result of this


that everyone won.


The solution to the problem


that we need to produce more useful goods

The trick to fixing it


that you have to use the right tool.   

The drawback to your idea


that it requires a lot of money.   

TO / OF    

The advantage to/ of your method


that it is simpler. 

*The logic to/ of this


that one person's actions affect another person's earnings.  


trick (N) – a clever method







Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions



Error and Solution


*The reason we don't like to work on Saturday.   (Error – an incomplete sentence)

*The reason which I can't find work is there are so few jobs.   (Error – which)

* The reason why I can't come to your party is because my dog is sick.
(not incorrect but repetitive)

~The reason why is a funny story. 
  Not incorrect, but the reason & why sound awkward together.  

* They are selling their business. The reason being they are retiring.

* He wants to get a dog. The reason is to have a walking partner.
(uncommon usage)

~ The reason is the fact that he is actually very nice guy. 
   Not incorrect, but the reasonthe fact sound awkward together. 

~ The reason for that is that we have to be on time.
   Not incorrect, but
thatthat sound awkward together.


The reason is that we don't like to work on Saturday. 
Include the verb and that in the main clause.

The reason (that) I can't find work is there are so few jobs. 
The modifying clause requires that not which (typically used for non-restrictive or supplementary clauses.)

The reason [that] I can't come to your party is [that] my dog is sick.
(Simplify the number of words used for reason.)

The reason why for that is a funny story.
Consider using for that in place of another question word(why) 

They are selling their business because they are retiring.  / The reason is [that] they are retiring.

The reason [ idea / point / solution] is to have a walking partner. 

The reason is [that] he wants a walking partner.

The reason is the fact that he is actually a very nice guy.  
Consider removing the fact that because it sounds awkward with the reason. 

The reason for that is that we have to be on time.
Most speakers will avoid a second that if it is an optional that.   


* Incorrect usage. / ~ Questionable or marginal use

Pop-Q "Reason is"







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Grammar Notes (Advanced)

Traditional and Linguistic Description



Traditional / ESL and Linguistic Descriptions


In traditional grammar, be a "linking verb" or "stative verb", also called copula or copular verb, relates the subject noun to information after the verb – an adjective, adverb, noun phrase or noun clause.  The information after be further identifies or describes the noun.

Noun = X

i. The reason is logical.  (adjective) 
ii. The reason is the high cost. (noun phrase)
iii. The reason is that the cost is too high. (noun-clause)




That it costs too much is the reason.  The reason is that it costs too much.   


In current linguistic description, be is "ascriptive" or "specifying", and may be complemented by a wide variety of structures; noun phrase (NP) prepositional phrase (PP) adjective phrase (ADJP) adverb phrase (ADVP) a full clause, or possibly a nonfinite clause. 

i. The reason is logical.  ("ascriptive be" – Subject Complement: adjective phrase) 
ii. The reason is the high cost. ("specifying be" – Subject Complement: noun phrase)
iii. The reason is that is costs too much. ("specifying be" – Subject Complement: that-clause)
iv. That is costs too much is the reason. (Subject: that-clause)
vs. The reason is that is costs too much. ("postposed subject")

Huddleston "Ascriptive and specifying uses of be" 266; "Internal Complement in Clause Structure: Postposing of subject" 958;  Swan 492; Quirk 3.31, 15.5.iii.


The reason is that it costs too much.  That it costs too much is the reason.   


Word Categories: N – Noun; V – Verb; Aux – Auxiliary; Adj – Adjective; Adv – Adverb; P –Preposition; Det –Determiner.

Phrasal Categories: NP – Noun Phrase; VP – Verb Phrase; AdjP – Adjective Phrase; AdvP – Adverb Phrase; PP – Prepositional Phrase; DP – Determinative Phrase.

Clausal Categories: Cls – clause; F – finite clause; NF – nonfinite clause (Ger – gerund; Inf – infinitive; PPart – past participle).

Word Functions: Subj – subject; Pred – predicate/predicator; Compcomplement: elements required by an expression to complete its meaning (DO – direct object; IO – indirect object);  Adjunctadjunct: elements not required by an expression to complete its meaning (Subord – subordinator; Coord – coordinator); Suplsupplement: a clause or phrase added onto a clause that is not closely related to the central thought or structure of the main clause.



Works Cited

  • Azar, Betty Schrampfer, and Stacy A. Hagen. Understanding and Using English Grammar. 4th ed., Pearson Education, 2009.
  • Biber, Douglas, and Stig Johansson, et al. Longman Grammar Of Spoken And Written English. Pearson Education, 1999.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • O'Brien, Elizabeth. "Diagramming Sentences Exercises: Chapter 1." English Grammar Revolution. 2016. Accessed on 10 Oct. 2016.
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.
  • "Sentence diagram." Wikipedia. 28 Sep. 2016. Accessed on 10 Oct. 2016.





Practice 1

Job Interview

Job Interview


Read (context for practices 1 – 3)

Q:   What brings you here to us today? 
A:   I am here for the statistical analyst job.

Q:  I see that you have a bachelor's degree from Pepperdine. Why did you choose to study there?
A:   Because I liked the program they offered.  It was a good match for my goals.

Q:   Why are you applying here at Tzonga?
A:   The reason is the Tzonga name. It stands for quality.

Q:   Do you own a Tzonga tablet?
A:   Yes, I do.  The thing I like is that it has great apps.

Q:   Which of our apps do you like best?
I like the Compose app because I like to write while I commute on the train.

Q:   How would you make it better?
A:   The problem is that it doesn't have a voice input feature, and it's not always convenient to use the keyboard to input text or use other apps.

Q:   True, the current thinking is that we should move away from keyboard entry. 
A:   Yes, the advantage is the ease of word entry.  The disadvantage is the input for speakers with accents.

Q:   Would you be interested in working on the Compose app project?
A:  Yes, I would very much, because I know its pros and cons. (good and bad points)

Q:   Great. We need someone to analyze its online user data. Have you learned CSSS?
A:  No, I haven't.  The reason for that is we used SPSS instead. However, I could quickly learn it.

Q:   Excellent.  Do you have to leave right away? I ask because we have an afternoon focus group that should meet you.
A:  I'd be happy to stay and meet them. The problem is that I have a doctor's appointment at 2:00 p.m. today, which I can't change at the last minute.

Q:   That's not a problem.  How about returning Thursday at 1:00 p.m.?
A:  That's fine.  Let me give you my mobile phone number in case you need to reach me.

Q:   Sure.  That's a good idea because sometimes there is a room change.
A:  Here is the number.

Q:   Thanks for coming in. We'll see you on Thursday.
A:  Yes, Thursday.  Thank you for this opportunity. Goodbye.

apps (N) — applications (programs) that run on mobile devices

communte (V) — travel to and from work

keyboard (N) — the part of the computer where you can type

reach (V) — locate in order to talk with someone; call

statistical analyst (N) — an employee who interprets the user-click data and interprets it for marketing purposes

Tzonga — an imaginary company name





Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 1-5" button.






The benefit of a degree in statistics is .

be in demand – be required as necessary






Practice 2

Responding with reasons




Correct or Incorrect?

  1. Select a response correct or incorrect.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 6-10" button.


What is your reason for applying to Tzonga?
The reason I'd like to be part of a creative group.


Why do you like our new app Compose?
The advantage is for it's a good idea.


How would you improve it?
The drawback for the tablet is that it requires the keyboard to input data.


Can you stay for our afternoon meeting?
Unfortunately, I can't. The reason being I have a doctor's appointment.


Ah well. The solution is to come back on Thursday.
Certainly!  What time?








Practice 3

Tzonga Work Advantages




Edit the sentence so that the usage is more formal.

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or "Check 11-15" button.


Why is Tzonga successful?

REWRITE: The reason why is because everyone is passionate about working here.

Are there perks in working for Tzonga(perks – extra or special advantages)

REWRITE: There are several. The main reason being they want to keep us here.


How so?

REWRITE:  Reason is they offer us breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that we will stay on site and keep working late.

Does it work? Do you stay longer at work?

REWRITE:  Sometimes, but not always. The reason is because I have children to care for.

Does Tzonga plan to add a daycare facility?

REWRITE:  Perhaps, they will after they lease the building next door.  Their reasoning is that they need more space.