January 3, 2008

Point Being

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “the point being” — it’s a version of “the point is.”

I don’t have a problem with the phrase. It is probably best used when someone knows they’ve made a somewhat unclear or incomplete argument or statement and want to clarify what the point of it was. Sometimes the unclear argument is intentionally unclear, so that the point can be revealed dramatically in this explicit way, or perhaps humorously. But most often I do not see it used for any specifically clever purpose.

In the spoken context, I often hear it shortened to simply “point being.”

I come and go about 3 times during the day. Point being, you shouldn’t park me in.

It’s pretty much interchangeable with “the point is” although you hear people using “the point is” to re-frame the discussion when two people are arguing.

Neighbor 1: I saw Spot in my back yard yesterday.

Neighbor 2: Yeah, you should get your fence fixed.

Neighbor 1: The point is, you need to obey the leash law!1

I don’t usually hear “point being” in that sort of conversation, but I suppose it could be used there.

Lately, in the SouthCoast, I am hearing the following:

It’s appalling that kids have poor math skills and can’t talk English right. Point being is, teachers oughtta be held accountable.

It’s as if someone wanted to say “The point is” and then decided that “Point being” sounded more fancy. Then they were worried nobody would understand them, so they stuck the “is” back in. It sure sounds dopey.

Have you heard this usage? I’m hoping it’s a local usage that will soon die off as the few users are told how silly it sounds.

Or, maybe it will start a trend and we will soon be seeing:

  • “The fact remains is…”
  • “Your appointment will be is…”
  • “for the time being is…”

1 Where would we be without people who are gracious enough to reveal to us the point of our conversations?

Posted by James at January 3, 2008 8:12 AM
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I did similar things when I was younger. I didn't fully understand the meaning of two phrases but I wanted to sound more sophisticated so I combined them.

I love the irony of mistakes in a sentence about people who "can't talk English right".

Posted by: Mike at January 3, 2008 9:34 AM

You get a pass when you're young.

I'm hearing this from 40-50 year-olds.

And the irony was intentional, because usually you hear these things from people expounding on how they have the solution to everything, we just need to be "tougher." Or some similar simplistic BS.

Posted by: James at January 3, 2008 10:06 AM

Yeah, it's related to things like these:

The reason being, is because it's expensive.

The problem is, is that George Bush is a moron.

I'm waiting for it to expand even further:
The point being is, is being is it's bad grammar.
Don't'cha know.

Posted by: Barry Leiba at January 3, 2008 11:29 AM

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