Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

Pain in the English offers proofreading services for short-form writing such as press releases, job applications, or marketing copy. 24 hour turnaround. Learn More

The fact of the matter is is that

I have searched the forum and not found any reference to this matter. More and more, I’m hearing this kind of construction: “The fact of the matter is is that we need to...” or “The biggest problem is is that we don’t have...” I’ve even heard President Obama use it. At first blush, it bothers me. There’s no need for the second “is,” and no grammatical precedent. That is to say, I don’t know what it might spill over from. Furthermore, it seems like a fairly recent arrival. What do you think? Is this something we should eschew or embrace? Has anyone else heard and taken note of this?

Submit Your Comment



Sort by  OldestLatestRating

is is simply redundant

JLC August 22, 2016, 4:14am

2 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

I would call it "native speaker error"

jayles the threaper August 23, 2016, 7:58pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

I'm glad this is annoying someone else (if you will forgive me!) - so frustrating to see so many people falling into this 'trap', and such educated ones, to boot!

Here are two useful links which explain it fully: and

fiona1 October 31, 2016, 4:11am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

It occurs to me that the post I made just now is altogether too technical!

In essence, people are misunderstanding a correct (though messy) construction and inserting a superfluous 'is' - basically, it appears, overthinking it.

So, 'What the problem is is that the government...' is a correct (if ugly) formation. The 'What the problem is' is the subject of the verb.

So people think that if they say 'The problem is' they must then add an 'is', and we get 'The problem is is that the government...' However, of course, the subject of the second example is simply 'the problem'. So it should read, 'The problem is that the government...'

I find it quite astonishing that this 'double-is' formation has achieved such prevalence in recent years, even amongst journalists and academics.

Never have I felt more Canute-like; I really must get over my frustration with this one, as I see absolutely no way of turning the tide!

fiona1 October 31, 2016, 4:31am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

This is similar to the "that that" problem, which I have myself found utilizing. Perhaps, if not in such a rush with emails, I would find the time to reconstruct my sentence to avoid "that that", though I don't find it difficult to understand when I read it myself. Perhaps others do.

Thad B March 27, 2017, 11:28pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Yes     No