Any time you see this phrase in your writing, just stop, delete that sentence and try again. "The fact that" is about as essential to any sentence, as a towel to any trout. Still, less confident and less skilled authors continue to use it to try to make their writing sound more official and educated, to add extra weight to certain statements, and to camouflage faulty reasoning.

It is due to the fact that Britney Spears is the voice of a generation that she's sold millions of records.

The fact that people continue to smoke cigarettes despite the health risk stems from how much they love the taste of their particular brand.

The fact that men want to have sex more often than women is because men like sex more than women.

Yeah, right. Let's try something self-referencial.

While the phase "the face that" is gramatically correct, that doesn't change the fact that it should never be used.

Have I proven that this phrase should never be used? Nope. Instead I've asserted that it's is proven elsewhere... which of course (as Any points out below) it isn't. At one point, I had a lot more hand waving in here...

Suffice it to say, you may find places where it is not redundant or extraneous, when dicussing "a fact itself rather than the underlying reality". However, I think you will find those cases few and far between. And even when used correctly, "the fact that" sounds like lame joke to me. Every time I see it, I hear a drum set in my head.

There are two very common ways this phrase is abused, so that it can be tempting to condemn its use categorically:

But it's one thing to say that one should avoid cumbersome or misleading uses of an expression, and quite another to say that one should never use it, going to lengths to avoid it even when it seems natural to the writer. The latter is arrant pedantry. Sometimes avoiding "the fact that" would be awkward or change the meaning of the sentence:

The fact that Mister Rogers is dead still upsets me.

You could chop off "the fact", and it would still be correct, but it would be a jarringly archaic usage. "Mister Rogers' death still upsets me" says something related, but different: the new version is about an event in the past rather than the state that follows it. The fact that Mister Rogers is dead is not under debate, so there's no question being begged here. And hey, wasn't that just another appropriate use? There are many ways to rephrase that sentence, but they all either sound awkward or change the meaning or voice of the utterance.

In fact, here's a general rule: it's appropriate to talk about the fact of something when it's the fact itself (i.e., an event or state considered as a particular piece of human knowledge) under discussion, as opposed to the underlying reality that the fact is concerned with.

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