Fingernails on a chalkboard

Photo of Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong

Even Billie seems bothered by the sound of his own screeching.

I totally get the expression, and have used it as far back as I can remember to describe extreme personal irritants. But the actual sound of fingernails on a chalkboard has never bothered me. Not anywhere close to the way, say, Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice will cause me to scream and start pounding on radio buttons in a desperate attempt to MAKE IT STOP.

Worse than that, even — for me — is bad grammar. I don’t expect (or want) people to walk around speaking like Queen Elizabeth I. When I say “bad grammar,” I mean really horrific grammar.

Speaker 1 — “Why has the use of improper grammar become so prevalent among members of the news media?”
Speaker 2 — “The reason is because . . .”


There are multiple acceptable ways to answer this question. Options include:

  • “The reason is . . .”
  • “The use of improper grammar has become so prevalent among members of the news media because . . .” or the more conversationally acceptable,
  • “Because . . .”

“The reason is” and “because” shouldn’t appear together in an answer, ever, to any question.


2 comments on “Fingernails on a chalkboard

  1. Laura says:

    I hate, hate, hate that construction and the reason is that it’s ugly. And wrong. But it’s so common that I don’t think anyone else considers it wrong and wouldn’t bother to correct it even if you could explain the error to them. It’s too enmeshed in our conversation.

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