Causes and Effects in English

Vocabulary and Grammar


When we talk about a situation that makes another situation happen, we talk about cause and effect.

In English, we use certain expressions such as because, due to, since, and as to talk about causes and effects.

In this lesson, you will learn the meanings of cause, effect, and affect. You will also learn how to express cause and effect in English.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses



To begin, you should know the definitions of cause, effect (noun), and affect (verb).

(When effect is a verb, it is spelled with an a = affect.)

Cause

(noun) a person or thing that makes something happen

  • The cause of the accident was a flat tire.


    flat tire


(verb) an action that makes something happen


  • The flat tire caused the car to wreck.

    flat tire

Effect

(noun) a change that is a result of an action or cause

  • The snowstorm had an effect on his mood.


    snow


Affect

When effect is used as a verb, it is usually spelled with an a = affect.


(verb) to produce an effect; to cause a change in something.

  • The snowstorm affected his mood.

    snow


Talking about causes and effects in English

To express cause and effect in English, we us certain words and phrases.

  • due to

  • because of

  • owing to

  • thanks to

  • as a consequence of

  • as a result of

  • because

  • since

  • as

  • for

To express cause and effect, these words or phrases will either be followed by a 
noun or a verb.


Followed by a noun

These cause/effect phrases are followed by a noun or noun phrase.
  • due to

  • because of

  • owing to

  • as a consequence of

  • as a result of

  • thanks to

In the following examples, the noun or noun phrase will be underlined.

The cause always comes after the cause/effect signal word or phrase.


Signal word/phrase + Cause, + Effect

Effect + Signal word/phrase + Cause


Examples:

report card

1. Due to John's laziness, he did not pass the English test.

  • Signal phrase: Due to

  • Cause: John's laziness

  • Effect: He did not pass the test



2. He failed the test because of his bad study habits.

  • Signal phrase: Because of


  • Cause: His bad study habits

  • Effect: He failed the test

rain



3. As a result
of the rain, we canceled the picnic.

  • Signal phrase: As a result of

  • Cause: The rain

  • Effect: We canceled the picnic


ill man

4. David could not attend owing to his illness.

  • Signal phrase: Owing to

  • Cause: David's illness

  • Effect: David could not attend


waking up

5. He was fired as a consequence of tardiness (being late).

  • Signal phrase: As a consequence of

  • Cause: Tardiness

  • Effect: He was fired


Followed by a verb

These cause/effect signal words are followed by a subjectverb or verb phrase.

  • because

  • since

  • as

  • for
 
In these examples, the subject + verb or verb phrase is underlined.
The cause comes after the cause/effect signal word or phrase.

Signal word/phrase + Cause, + Effect
Effect + Signal word/phrase + Cause

Examples:

report card


1. 
Because John was lazy, he did not pass the English test.

  • Signal word: Because

  • Cause: John was lazy

  • Effect: He did not pass the test


2. He failed the test because he did not study well.

  • Signal word: Because

  • Cause: He did not study well

  • Effect: He failed the test


rain

3. The picnic was canceled since the rain was coming.

  • Signal word: Since

  • Cause: The rain was coming

  • Effect: The picnic was canceled


ill man

4. David could not attend for he was ill.

  • Signal word: For

  • Cause: David was ill

  • Effect: David could not attend


waking up


5. As
he arrived late to work, he will be fired.

  • Signal word: As

  • Cause: He arrived

  • Effect: He will be fired

Practice cause and effect signal words and phrases with these activities: Hands-on Activities for Teaching English.


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