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"Because," "Due To," "Since," and "As"

What's the difference?

By
Bonnie Trenga Mills, read by Mignon Fogarty
November 27, 2009
Episode #198

Page 1 of 3

Today we’re looking at various ways to say “because,” including “due to,”“since,” and “as.”

Wordy Ways to Say “Because”

First, let’s disparage all the wordy ways to express the meaning “because.” There are quite a few: “due to the fact that,” “owing to the fact that,” “on account of,” and “on the grounds that,” for example. If you use “because” instead of those beasts, you can save up to four words.

You should also avoid “the reason is because.” For example, a redundant but romantic windbag might say, “The reason I love you is because of your kindness.” Why not be concise and romantic instead? Just say, “I love you because you’re kind.” Some might prefer “the reason is that,” but that is also wordy.

“Due to” or “Because”?

Now let’s discuss “due to” and “because.” As happens so often these days, there’s a traditional way and a rebel way. The traditional view is that you should use “due to” only as an adjective, usually following the verb “to be” (1). For example, if you say, “The cancellation was due to rain,” the words “due to” modify “cancellation.” That sentence is a bit formal, but it fits the traditionalist rule.

If you want to be more casual, you’ll say, “It was cancelled because of rain.” According to purists, you’re not allowed to say, “It was cancelled due to rain” because “due to” doesn’t have anything to modify. Purists argue that “due to” is an adjective; it shouldn’t be a compound preposition.

Very few of us are thinking about adjectives and compound prepositions when we speak, so it may be difficult to know when you’re using “due to” as an adjective. Strunk & White (2) suggest using “due to” when you can replace it with “attributable to,” whereas in her book Woe is I Patricia O'Connor (3) proposes substituting “caused by” or “resulting from.” She explains that if a sentence begins with “due to,” as in “Due to inclement weather, school was canceled,” the sentence is “probably wrong.”

So if you find yourself agreeing with traditionalists—or if your writing will be judged by one—use “due to” if you can substitute “attributable to,” “caused by,” or “resulting from.” And don’t use it at the beginning of a sentence.

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