I want to write about this piece by Bill McKibbon that Alternet’s posted but “the reason why” I haven’t yet is I can’t get past the headline:
The Surprising Reason Why Americans Are So Lonely, and Why Future Prosperity Means Socializing with Your Neighbors
The “reason why” I can’t get past it is that the editors should know better than to write "the reason why.” It’s redundant.
A why is a reason and a reason is a why.
You don’t need both.
It’s as bad as writing “the reason is because”. It’s the same as writing “the reason is because”.
The Surprising Reason Americans are So Lonely is fine.
The reason why the lab blew up is that somebody forgot to turn off his Bunsen Burner.
The reason why I stopped you, sir, is you caused windows to shatter when you broke the sound barrier coming around that turn back there.
The reason why I’m wide awake and giving lectures on grammar and usage at two in the morning is that I made the mistake of drinking a Red Bull on top of six cups of coffee.
Take the whys out those sentences and not only do they still parse, they flow better because the drawn-out crying sound that a why makes is gone. You don’t have to pause to comfort it. Whys force an emphasis on themselves that stop sentences in their tracks.
Go ahead. Re-read those sentences without the whys.
See what I mean?
More to the point, do you hear what I mean?
The reason I’m bothering you with this is that I’m a pompous and pedantic ass.
The reason you’re reading it is unfathomable.