Ours not to reason why

I’d guess that CUNY journalism students have been reading Tennyson, except who reads Tennyson anymore?  In “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” he wrote:

Not tho’ the soldier knew

Someone had blunder’d:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die . . .

Tennyson comes to mind because students so often borrow his phrase reason why.

From a review of the movie “Dracula Untold”: This is an enough reason why the word “untold” in the title doesn’t work at all.

From a business story: That was the main reason why the rating agency recently upgraded its credit rating.

From a music feature: Another reason why the trio is still together is that they are not together all the time.

From a blog post on a New York legislator: The reason why Nadler cared about these immigrant workers in the U.S. was not his interest in financially supporting former Soviet Union citizens and helping them pursue a better life.  

From an entrepreneurial journalism student’s takeaway after a guest speaker: He explained the reason why they stick to paper is gaining money through it.

Reason why is redundant — that is, it says the same thing twice (like this sentence). Merriam-Webster online defines the noun reason as “a statement or fact that explains why something is the way it is, why someone does, thinks, or says something, or why someone behaves a certain way.” In short, reason implies why, so there’s no need to repeat it. 

Nor is there any reason to say the reason is because . . . Because, according to Merriam-Webster, means “for the reason that”; therefore, reason . . . because, too, is redundant. Instead, use a that clause, but drop that unless it is needed to make the meaning clear (That again, March 5, 2013).

So the sentences above should have read:

This is an enough reason enough why (that) the word “untold” in the title doesn’t work at all. (Reason enough is an idiom meaning enough reason.)

That was the main reason why the rating agency recently upgraded its credit rating.

Another reason why the trio is still together is that they the musicians are not together all the time.

The reason why Nadler cared about these immigrant workers in the U.S. was not his interest in financially supporting former Soviet Union citizens and helping them pursue a better life.  

He explained that the reason why they stick to paper is gaining money through it. (Here that is needed; without it, the speaker is explaining the reason itself, not what the reason is.) Better yet: He explained that they stick to paper because they gain money through it.

Tennyson, however, is in the clear. He was using reason as a verb, with why — an adverb disguised as noun — as the direct object. What were they reasoning? The why — you know, one of those 5Ws of journalism.

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