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Because or Due to

Aim: This page will help you to decide when to use Because (of) and when to use Due to (the fact that).

1. Introduction: expressing cause and effect

In English the expression of cause and effect involves the use of a number of grammatical structures. Some of these are used inaccurately by Hong Kong learners. These expressions include the proper use of 'Because' and 'because of' and of 'Due to' and 'Due to the fact that...' It is important when using these structures to differentiate those that are followed by a noun phrase and those that are followed by a main clause. Incorrect use very often results from failure to recognize this difference.


Clause: a clause is a subject noun or noun phrase followed by a verb or verb phrase; e.g. 'grammar' is a noun, 'some very easy grammar' is a noun phrase, 'is' is a verb, and 'has been' is a verb phrase.

Noun phrase: a noun, or a noun with an article or determiner, and/or an adjective in front of it, and sometimes with a relative clause after it; e.g. apple (noun), some apples (determiner and noun), some red apples (determiner, adjective and noun), some red apples which I am going to eat (determiner, adjective, noun and relative clause).

2. Grammatical analysis and explanation

The following sentences correctly use 'Due to...' and 'Due to the fact that...':

  1. The problem was due to a shortage of high court judges.
  2. Due to overcrowding last year, the competition field was narrowed down to six teams.
  3. Due to a delay in Lanzhou, the flight was unable to leave until this morning.
  4. Shell said the cuts were due to a general easing of oil prices.
  5. Some liberals also expressed worry that the impact of the motion would be reduced due to the current debate between Hong Kong and Britain on democratization.

It can be seen that 'due to' is followed by a noun phrase in all of the examples above. [It may NOT be followed by a main clause, as in this student example: *Due to they have no salary, they may need to think how to use it.].

However, it IS acceptable to use the structure 'Due to the fact that' + Main Clause, as the following examples show:

  1. The difference must have been due to the fact that Minh had been living in a more pleasant environment for six months.
  2. Mr Goh said the dramatic rise in the amount of American currency flowing from the territory back to the US might be due to the fact that more tourists had come to Hong Kong.

As with the use of the two structures 'Due to + Noun Phrase' and 'Due to the fact that + Main Clause', the following structures are also acceptable: 'Because + Main Clause' and 'Because of + Noun Phrase'. Some examples of these structures are shown below:

  1. Because of a smaller budget this term, the faculty has had to shelve other programmes such as the setting up of an institute of neurology.
  2. The port and airport development is currently stalled because of Britain and China's failure to agree on a financing package.
  3. Mrs Fung was also murdered because she knew the gang.
  4. Because the cheque was made payable to China Restaurant, there was no problem when the cashier deposited it in the restaurant's account.

N.B.: A. 'Because + Main Clause' and 'Because of + Noun Phrase' are acceptable at the start of a sentence. So are 'Due to + Noun Phrase' and 'Due to the fact that + Main Clause'.

B. 'Due to is frequently preceded by a form of the verb 'to be', e.g. 'Her anger was probably due to her tiredness;' 'The results may be due to her laziness'. Note that the construction 'to be due to' is often preceded by a modal verb (e.g.'may', 'might', 'could'); of course, the main verb 'be' should be used in such cases: e.g. 'The strong winds may be due to the approaching typhoon'.

3. Exercise

Study the following examples and decide whether they are grammatically correct or not:


Last updated on: Friday, February 01, 2013