how truthful this description is is addressed [double 'is']

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Today I stumbled on trying to express something with double 'is'. As I am not native speaker, I was wondering whether someone native finds it of normal use, passable or never to use. The sentence I would write is:
"The question of how truthful this description is is addressed in the text."

Most of hits I find in google with "is is" are misleading, so I decided to ask here. :)

Thanks!

Wiz
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    It's not one I've thought about before but your sentence sounds OK to me. However, I think I would place quotation marks are "how truthful this description is" if I were writing it and/or it needs a comma after the first "is".
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Your usage is perfectly correct, but the thing is, you know, that many people use "is is" wrongly, especially when it involves the popular phrase "the thing is" (or "the problem is").
    When we say "the thing is" like that, we often make a pause after the "is", while we gather our thoughts before continuing. We might even add an interjection of some sort (like "you know"). But then the temptation is to tuck another quick "is" in just before the "that".

    The thing is -- is that...
    The thing is, you know, is that...

    This has become a bit of a joke in some circles, and people are apt to say "The thing is-is -- is that..."

    But, to answer your question, although your sentence is OK, it looks confusing when written. When spoken, we would stress the first "is", make a slight pause, as if there were a comma (for which there is no grammatical justification), and then continue with an unstressed second "is". I would not write it with a comma between the two "is"s, because that also adds confusion. So perhaps the best course of action would be to re-word it without double-is. For example: "The text addresses the question of how truthful this description is." or "This description's truthfulness is addressed in the text."
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    So perhaps the best course of action would be to re-word it without double-is. For example: "The text addresses the question of how truthful this description is." or "This description's truthfulness is addressed in the text."
    :thumbsup: I completely agree with Edinburgher: the solution is rewording to eliminate the "is is".
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I come across "that that" fairly often. I resolve it by a re-write, usually by adding a noun.

    I believe that that item is now being produced in China.

    I believe that the shrimp deveiner is now being produced in China.

    For your example I would make this change:

    "The question of how truthful of the truthfulness of this description is addressed in the text."
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Unlike some of the others I don't find it confusing at all. There is no way to misread it or parse it differently. We say it that way so why not write it that way?

    Such sentences are not hard to scan or read and to claim that that is is untrue in my estimation.
    I think the double "is" and the double "that" will always be re-read and reader will respond mentally with "ah, yes" each time. But why make them re-read?
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Unlike some of the others I don't find it confusing at all. There is no way to misread it or parse it differently.
    When I said that it "looks confusing", I didn't mean that it confuses me, but that it has the capacity to confuse lesser mortals than olympic-level parsers like you or me.
    I agree with Packard: Forcing people to back-track while parsing this unusual form is avoidable and borders on being impolite.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    When I said that it "looks confusing", I didn't mean that it confuses me, but that it has the capacity to confuse lesser mortals than olympic-level parsers like you or me.
    I agree with Packard: Forcing people to back-track while parsing this unusual form is avoidable and borders on being impolite.
    That raises a serious point for me. I admit my "that that is is" was extreme and deliberately so.

    Do people really stumble over "is is" in the original sentence? I can imagine it could be tricky for a non-native but surely native readers of any fluency (apart perhaps from trained proofreaders and over-zealous editors) skim over it without spotting it. Would anyone here have noticed the doubling if wizzerad hadn't alerted us to it?
     
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    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    Your sentence is correct but very awkward. If you need an example, though, there is always former President Clinton's remark that. "it depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    As Franco-Filly (#2) has said, there's nothing logically wrong with "The question of how truthful this description is is addressed in the text." The purpose of grammar is to make the logic clear. Personally, I'd have written "The question - of how truthful this description is - is addressed in the text" or perhaps better: "The question of the truthfulness of this description is addressed in the text."
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    There are some conversational circumstances where "is is" is not only heard but expected:

    Where's young John?
    He's, uh, up in your daughter's room, sir.
    Oh, he is, is he?
    (heading for the stairs)
     
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    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Yes, I would edit it in some way. "The text addresses the question of how truthful this description is" or something. to me "is is" is awkward. Hey, look at that, three in a row!
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, I would edit it in some way. "The text addresses the question of how truthful this description is" or something. to me "is is" is awkward. Hey, look at that, three in a row!
    So what you're saying is, "is is" is awkward. I don't agree. However in your last sentence I think the triplet '"is is" is', is awkward.

    (four!)
     
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    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Just to balance out the other side, I don't have a problem with "is is" or "that that." If there's a more elegant way to phrase the sentence, then you should consider it; but if the rewrite gets rid of the duplication but is more awkward, then keep it.

    (This says nothing about the rewrites above, so please don't get lathered up unless you're shaving.)
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    In case you want to keep "...is, is..." (with a comma, even though there is no grammatical requirement for it)
    you can get authoritative support by doing a websearch for "separating identical or similar words".
    The Chicago Manual of Style, for example (Sec. 5.64), approves of "Whatever is, is good",
    but no comma in "He gave his life that that cause might prevail."
    The difference between these examples seems to be that the comma follows only a stressed word.
    I don't find any other punctuation (quotation marks, dashes...) necessary: the comma is sufficient.
     
    Last edited:
    Thank you very much to everyone!
    So, the verdict is that it is not wrong, but it is better if one avoids it.
    I'll choose to reword it, then. It looks like rewording is what the majority here suggests to do. I prefer to leave it passive, it looks more elegant to me. So the suggested replacement:
    "The question of the truthfulness of this description is addressed in the text."
    sounds great! Thanks again. :)

    Wiz
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Thank you very much to everyone!
    So, the verdict is that it is not wrong, but it is better if one avoids it.
    I'll choose to reword it, then. It looks like rewording is what the majority here suggests to do. I prefer to leave it passive, it looks more elegant to me. So the suggested replacement:
    "The question of the truthfulness of this description is addressed in the text."
    sounds great! Thanks again. :)

    Wiz
    "Truthful" only if you feel there was an active effort to deceive. Otherwise I'd use "accuracy".
     
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