Thursday, 28 April 2011

Reasonable cause

Many of our supposed grammatical errors result not so much from our ignorance of grammar rules as from carelessness in our use of words and/or sloppiness in our thinking.

The truth of this assertion can be shown with reference to a few sentences in which the word reason may typically occur.

It is not uncommon to hear:

(1) The reason I went was because my friend suggested it.
(2) The reason for her success is due to her hard work.

Since because and due to imply that there is a reason involved, it is unnecessary to use the word reason in the same sentence as either of these items.

Correct versions of (1) and (2) would be (respectively):

(1) The reason I went was that my friend suggested it. (OR: I went because my friend suggested it.)
(2) Her success is due to her hard work.

In a previous article I wrote about redundancy – the use of words that are superfluous because they are implied by other words in the sentence or by the context. The sentences we have just looked at are further examples of that phenomenon. We don’t have to know any rules of grammar to avoid redundancy in our speaking and writing. If we would simply take a little more time to think about the meaning of the words and the phrases we use, we could eliminate some of the less desirable features of our language usage. –ws–

Please note that the “missing” post between the 22 April article and today’s is due to the fact that for last week’s instalment I referred readers via Facebook to the composite article "Towards a cure for chronic apostrophic aperplexy" at my related blog, My apologies – I should have posted that message here as well.

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