The annoying double “is” October 11, 2010

Grammar Girl
Since I arrived in the United States, I heard a lot of people using a phrase that I always found very awkward. People tend to say things like:

The problem is is that the economy is not in good shape.

I’m not really trying to talk about the economy here, it was just an example. So what’s the problem in that sentence? The repetition of the word “is”. I don’t really know why, but a lot of people use that phrase around here. And it’s not just with sentences that start with “The problem is”: it often happens with sentences that start with “The thing is”, or “The question is”.

I heard this phrase so often that I almost thought it was proper English…

Fortunately, a few weeks ago, I listened to an episode of the Grammar Girl podcast about double words, which explains that this phrase is actually incorrect. She even has a great explanation for why people repeat the word “is” in such sentences:

We probably say such ungrammatical sentences because we’re stalling as we think of what to say next. Thinking longer before you speak is a better idea.

Grammar Girl

So, now, the mystery is solved: we should not repeat the word “is” in such sentences.

Thanks for clearing that up Grammar Girl!

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