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Text development by cause and effect

Orlando Nieto English Writing

One of the organizational patterns you may want to use in your texts is “cause and effect”. You use this method when you want to indicate a causal relationship between events, in which ‘cause’ is an event or condition that produces a result, or ‘effect’.

The basic structure of a cause-and-effect text would be the one shown in Figure 1, in which there is one cause or reason for each effect produced.

Figure 1

However, the cause-effect pattern has a greater flexibility, since the relationships between causes and effects are not always so clear.

Figure 2

In fact, you may have one cause that produces several effects (Figure 2), or several contributing causes may have only one result (Figure 3).

Figure 3

More often than not, you may have a chain of causes and effects with different ‘weights’ and levels of importance.

A WORD ON HOW TO SHOW CAUSE AND EFFECT

Understanding how cause and effect work is not all you need to successfully write a good text. Because the pattern is so flexible, there are many ways in which to organize your ideas, and in order to do that effectively, you will need a number of helpful words and phrases to convey what you wish to express. Here you have a table that includes some valuable conjunctions, prepositions and transitions.

Connectors of Cause & Effect
BecauseConsequentlyThereforeSince
Result inHenceBrings aboutAccordingly
Because of thisIs due toFor this reasonIn order to
Leads toForDue toOn account of
CausesSoAsThereby

Knowing how these connectors work is key. Some of them convey the idea that the cause comes before the effect (such as ‘therefore’, ‘results in’, etc.), as in the examples:

  • Eating too much junk food results in health problems. (‘eating junk food’ is the cause of ‘health problems’, the effect)
  • I bought a new car; therefore, I won’t arrive late to work again. (having a car is the cause of arriving earlier).

Other connectors, however, convey the opposite, i.e. the idea that the effect comes before the cause (such as ‘due to’, ‘because’, ‘since’, etc.), as in the following examples:

  • My mom has health problems due to junk food consumption. (‘health problems’ are the effect of eating ‘junk food’, the cause).
  • I won’t arrive late again because I bought a new car. (not arriving late is the effect of having a car).

In case you still need some help to identify the right connector, just use WriteBetter and check the correct use of each one of them.

EXAMPLE

Some examples taken from this paper are shown here:

At any rate, it is not clear if training is needed due to the (low) accessibility/usability of software tools or because corpus use requires learners to manage some knowledge.

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Generally speaking, users reject the sudden introduction of changes (baby duck syndrome) because of their unfamiliarity.