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I'm curious to find out when we can say "the reason why" and "the reason for which" and when only "the reason". Could you explain it to me please? I found some examples:

wordreference.com:
(1a) The reason he left the house is obvious. — natural
(1b) The reason why he left the house is obvious. — natural
(1c) The reason for which he left the house is obvious. — natural

wordreference.com:
(2a) This is the reason the legislation is adopted and it is, for the legislator, a dependent reason. — natural
(2b) This is the reason why the legislation is adopted and it is, for the legislator, a dependent reason. — natural
(2c) This is the reason for which the legislation is adopted and it is, for the legislator, a dependent reason. — natural

wordreference.com:
(3a) Do you know the reason he was late? — natural
(3b) Do you know the reason why he was late? — natural
(3c) Do you know the reason for which he was late? — unnatural

wordreference.com:
(4a) Tell me the reason he doesn't come here. — natural
(4b) Tell me the reason why he doesn't come here. — unnatural
(4c) Tell me the reason for which he doesn't come here. — unnatural

wordreference.com:
(5a) The reason the airlines have delayed flights is that a missile landed... — natural
(5b) The reason why the airlines have delayed flights is that a missile landed... — unnatural
(5c) The reason for which the airlines have delayed flights is that a missile landed... — unnatural

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When using 'the reason', 'why' and 'for which' are entirely optional.

You can also use 'that'.

As they are unnecessary, each of the additions tends to make the sentence formal, or even stilted.

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  • You wrote: "When using 'the reason', 'why' and 'for which' are entirely optional." That means all b- and c-variants are equally natural to you, right?
    – Loviii
    Oct 29, 2022 at 8:24
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    @lovii Natural, yes, but unnecessary, and (opinion), probably best used sparingly.
    – PRL75
    Oct 29, 2022 at 8:44
  • @PRL75 Surely, you find "The reason for which the airlines have delayed flights is that a missile landed" to be unnatural. No? It's awful
    – gotube
    Oct 29, 2022 at 12:39
  • @gotube I agree it's not pleasant, but I wouldn't characterise it as unnatural.
    – PRL75
    Oct 29, 2022 at 13:05

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