What It Is, Is Annoying

Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 7:40 PM | Filed under

I've noticed an annoying speech pattern lately. What it is, is people are using superfluously wordy noun phrases which usually result in the speaker saying "is" twice in a row. The previous sentence is an example of such a pattern. Here are a few more examples I found on the Net:

"...it is not a self help book. What it is is a sampling of what makes people happy and why." (Amazon review)

"Tell us exactly what happened this morning" — "What it was, was that the Beetle and the suspect in the car came and pulled in..." (KCAL 9 news report)

"The Cosmic Game comes across as fresh as a debut and surprisingly indifferent toward being the in thing. What it is is music for music's sake, all laid out with the utmost care..." (Music review)

I've seen it with and without the comma. These clumsy constructions likely come about because people lead themselves into their sentences before they know what they're going to say. It's redundant to include all those words. In most cases I see or hear, a simple noun would fill in rather easily as the sentence's subject. Usually, "What it is, is" can be simplified to "It is".


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