Confusing to Students 5: Because and Due to

The Trick to Telling the Difference: PART 2/3

The verb to be and all its forms (am, are, is, was, were) are the key to telling because of and due to apart. If a sentence has a version of to be, use due to. If it doesn’t, use because of. Here are some due to vs. because of example sentences:

  • We fought because of our political differences. (Because of modifies the verb fought.)
    Our fight was due to our political differences. (Was due to modifies the noun fight.)
  • Aunt Sheri won the poker championship because of her experience in Las Vegas. (Because of modifies the verb won.)
    Aunt Sheri’s poker victory was due to her experience in Las Vegas. (Was due to modifies the noun victory.)
  • The financial crisis occurred because of risky mortgage practices. (Because of modifies the verb occurred.)
    The financial crisis was due to risky mortgage practices. (Was due to modifies the noun crisis.)
  • Jacob’s dog got out because of the broken gate. (Because of modifies the verb got.)
    Jacob’s dog’s escape was due to the broken gate. (Was due to modifies the noun escape.)

The difference between these usages is subtle but important. If a sentence sounds awkward one day, you can always reword it to clarify your meaning. You’re more likely to find due to in formal writing, while because of is present in informal writing and conversational speech.

Starting a Sentence

Many writers are more comfortable with due to at the beginning of a sentence than because of. They choose due to because they worry that starting a sentence with because might result in a sentence fragment. However, the opposite is actually correct. For example:

  • Due to popular demand, the band agreed to have another concert.

It seems like due to is modifying demand. However, it’s actually modifying agreed – which is a verb. In that case, because of is the appropriate choice.

  • Because of popular demand, the band agreed to have another concert.

There’s almost no instance when due to can start a sentence because there is no noun for it to modify. However, if you ensure that the sentence is not a fragment, starting a sentence with because or because of is perfectly acceptable. (If you still don’t like it, just include the adverbial prepositional phrase at the end of the sentence instead.)

Part 3/3 coming soon.

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