Double copula

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The double copula, also known as the reduplicative copula, double is or Isis,[1][2] is the usage of two successive copulae when only one is necessary, largely in spoken English. For example:

My point is, is that...

This should not be confused with legitimate usages of two successive copulae, such as:

What my point is is that...

In the latter sentence, "What my point is" is a dependent clause, and functions as a subject. In the former sentence, "My point" is a complete subject, and requires only one copula.

The double copula is nonstandard in written form. Its increasing occurrence in natural speech, however, is significant, and has affected its rate of commonness in any informal writings contexts.

The term double is, though commonly used to describe this practice, is somewhat inaccurate, since other forms of the word (such as "was" and "were") can be used in the same manner:

The problem being, is that...[3]

According to the third edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage (as revised by Robert Burchfield), the double copula originated around 1971 in the United States and had spread to the United Kingdom by 1987.


  1. ^ Brenier, Jason; Coppock, Liz; Michaelis, Laura; Staum, Laura (2006), "ISIS: It's not a disfluency, but how do we know that?", Berkeley Linguistics Society 32nd Annual Meeting, retrieved 2012-10-18 
  2. ^ Brenier, Jason M. and Laura A. Michaelis. 2005. Optimization via Syntactic Amalgam: Syntax-Prosody Mismatch and Copula Doubling. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 1: 45-88.
  3. ^ Massam, Diane (1999), "Thing is constructions: the thing is, is what’s the right analysis?", English Language and Linguistics (Cambridge University Press) (3.2): 349 

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