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Cause and Effect

Page history last edited by Don Pogreba 12 years, 3 months ago

Basic Definition

  • Cause and Effect essays are concerned with why things happen (causes) and what happens as a result (effects). Cause and Effect writing gives reasons and explanations for events, conditions, or behavior.


Why do we use cause and effect?

  • To discover order 
  • To inform
  • To speculate
  • To change behavior


Planning the Cause and Effect Essay 

The two strategic points to consider when writing a cause and effect essay are (1) whether you're exploring causes or effects or both and (2) what is theorder of the causes or effects you're goinge to pursue--from least to most important or vice versa.  To determine causes, ask, "Why did this happen?" To identify effects, ask, "What happened because of this?

When planning a cause and effect essay, begin by listing the event or condition you want to address. Then brainstorm to generate ideas about either its causes or its effects. Do additional research on your topic if necessaryThink carefully about the causes and effects you have listed. As part of prewriting you may find it helpful to diagram or demonstrate these relationships graphically. Check to be sure you have not drawn any faulty conclusions. Your conclusions are faulty if the cause-and-effect relationship does not exist or if it is unreasonable or not clearly established.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I assumed a cause-effect relationship when there is none?
  • Have I assumed only one cause when many causes may be appropriate?
  • Have I incorrectly assumed a causal relationship between two events that immediately follow each other?
  • Did I distinguish between long-term and short-term causes and effects?
  • Did I distinguish between primary (most important) and secondary (ancillary) effects?


Constructing a Thesis for a Cause and Effect Essay 

Compose a thesis statement that clearly states your topic. State clearly whether you are discussing causes, effects, or both. Introduce your main idea, using the terms "cause" and/or "effect."


Thesis Patterns for Cause and Effect Essays

  • {Effect} happens as a result of {Cause}.
  • {Effect} (verb) {Cause A, Cause B, and Cause C}.
  • {Cause} brings about {Effect}.
  • {Cause} (verb) {Effect A, Effect B, and Effect C}.       


Organizing the Cause and Effect Essay

Organize your supporting details in the following ways:

  • Chronological. details are arranged in the order in which the events occured.
  • Order of importance. details are arranged from least to most important or vice versa.
  • Categorical. details are arranged by dividing the topic into parts or categories.  


Key Words (Transition Words)

  • Cause and Effect--as a result, because, due to, resulted in, since, consequently, due to, if. . . .then, leads to, therfore, thus
  • Degrees of Certainty--certainly, may, necessarily, perhaps, possibly, probably, undoubtedly, unquestionably
  • Levels of Importance--above all, equally important, finally, first, initially, last, primarily, second 


Tips for Writing the Cause and Effect Essay

When writing your essay, keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • Remember your purpose. Decide if your are writing to inform or persuade.
  • Focus on immediate and direct causes (or effects.) Limit yourself to causes that are close in time and related, as opposed to remote and indirect causes, which occur later and are related indirectly.
  • Strengthen your essay by using supporting evidence. Define terms, offer facts and statistics, or provide examples, anecdotes, or personal observations that support your ideas.
  •  As you write, be careful not to overstate your case. Because many causal relationships cannot be proven conclusively, you may want to qualify your statements.Unless there is clear evidence that one event is related to another, qualify your statements with phrases such as "It appears that the cause was" or "It seems likely" or "The evidence may indicate" or "Available evidence suggests." 







Additional Resources

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