Is it correct to write a phrase like "The guy that is responsible is David"?

  • Why do you think it might be incorrect?
    – GEdgar
    Oct 28 '14 at 17:42
  • The sentence is correct. It could be shortened to "The guy responsible is David".
    – Armen Ծիրունյան
    Oct 28 '14 at 17:53
  • If you think it sounds weird, it's because in speech and informal writing the first "is" would probably usually be contracted - The guy that's responsible is David.
    – LawrenceC
    Oct 28 '14 at 22:46
  • @LawrenceC Is Armen's sentence correct where he put the adjective after the noun?
    – Boyep
    Dec 13 '19 at 16:22

Well, it's OK if you're just chatting, but when writing more formally or academically repetition like that is not considered to be good style so it would be better to change one of the verbs e.g. "David is the person responsible."

  • 2
    Who say's it's not good style? The use of 'guy' rather than 'man/person' may make this particular sentence informal, but the construction itself is not informal.
    – tunny
    Oct 28 '14 at 21:19

You can have two of the same form of 'be' in one sentence if they are in separate clauses. In this sentence, the main clause is 'The guy is David', and subordinate clause is 'that is responsible'.

  • Or even if they aren't: "She's being silly."
    – user230
    Nov 28 '14 at 7:21

There isn't any rule analogous to the "double negative" rule for be verbs. If you're worried that you're producing two verbs for the sentence, let's take a look at what you're saying:

The guy that is responsible is David.

Here, that is used to mark a non-essential clause. These phrases provide extra information, and can be removed from a sentence without compromising the grammatical structure of the sentence. Let's do that.

The guy is David.

A rather simple sentence, and perhaps a bit awkward, but technically correct, nevertheless. This shows that your non-essential clause wasn't making your sentence incorrect. In proper context, it could even be usable:

"We need a guy who really knows his way around Oracle systems." "'That guy' is David."

Here, the first speaker desires an employee who's good at working with a specific piece of software. The second employee points out that they already have someone hired with the proper qualifications. I changed "the" to "that" because it is more idiomatically appropriate, and most likely how you'll see a sentence with that structure used.

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