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Giving Reasons

In today’s Everyday Grammar, we will explore a few common structures that English speakers use to talk about reasons
Giving Reasons
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Imagine you want to describe why you did something or why something happened. In other words, you want to talk about a reason.

In today’s Everyday Grammar, we will explore a few common structures that English speakers use to talk about reasons. You will learn about conjunctions and expressions with the word “reason” in them.

Let’s start with the importance of conjunctions

What are conjunctions?

Conjunctions join together sentences, clauses, phrases or words.

Common conjunctions include words such as and, but, because. Because is of special importance for today's report. It is commonly used to explain why something is. Its exact meaning is “for the reason that.”

Consider the following statement:

“I listen to Everyday Grammar because I want to improve my understanding of English grammar.”

In our example, because joins different clauses. The first clause is “I listen to Everyday Grammar,” the second clause is “I want to improve my understanding of English grammar.”

Please note that because can be used in different places in a sentence - the beginning or the middle.

How might one change our previous example to have because at the beginning of the sentence? You might say something like this:

“Because I want to improve my understanding of English grammar, I listen to Everyday Grammar.”

Using the noun “reason”

English speakers sometimes use expressions with the noun “reason” to explain why something should be. One of these often appears in its negative form. It is “There is no reason why....” Let's listen to Carol Fishman Cohen use this structure in a Ted talk.

In fact, an employer just told me that their veterans return to work program is based on their reentry internship program.
And there's no reason why there can't be a retiree internship program.

But English speakers do not only use the noun reason in negative statements. English speakers often use structures such as “The reason...” or “The only reason...”

For example, when making a phone call, a businessperson might say, “The reason I called you is that I have a question about billing."

English speakers often say “The only reason...” when there could be many possible explanations about why something is. Let's listen to Simon Sinek describe why people buy some kinds of technology.

The only reason these people buy touch-tone phones is because you can’t buy rotary phones anymore.

Sinek’s use of “only reason” adds a touch of humor to his talk. He could have also said, “The reason these people buy touch-tone phones...” but adding the word “only” gives the statement a bit more strength.

Closing thoughts

In today's report, you learned about how to answer why questions. When you give a reason, you are explaining why something is or why something should be. The next time you listen to the news or watch television shows, pay careful attention to how speakers give reasons or explain why things are.

Pay careful attention to how they use conjunctions such as “because" and how they use the noun “reason.” With time, you will learn how to give clearer explanations in English. Let's end this report with a few lines from the famous song “Give me one reason,” sung by Tracy Chapman.

Give me one reason to stay here

And I’ll turn right back around

I’m John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

clause – n. grammar : a part of a sentence that has its own subject and verb

phrase – n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence

internship – n. the position of person (often a trainee or a student) who works in an organization, sometimes without pay,

touch-tone phone – n. a phone with buttons that make a sound when you touch them.

rotary phone – n. a phone that has a disc with finger holes