Because or Due to? Don’t Interchange Them!


How do you decide whether to use because or due to when you’re writing a sentence? I’d start by not listening to Grammarly.

Overall, I like the web plugin Grammarly. But a recent article of theirs got me riled up over the topic of choosing between because or due to.

Grammarly’s article was titled, “Synonyms for ‘Because'” and I knew I shouldn’t read it. I just knew it would list the phrase “due to” as one of them. Sure enough, when I did look, that’s what I found.

The article begins with a reasonable point. It states that while some English words are meant to “stand out,” words like because are meant to serve a function.

Because is a conjunction used to show cause and effect by linking an event, situation, or action with its reason,” the article states.

I certainly agree with that. But when it lists a dozen synonyms for the word, a few are cringeworthy. For example, when’s the last time you used the phrase owing to in spoken or written English? If you’re like me, you probably don’t remember.

Why? The word because is so much simpler and easier for the brain to process. This is especially true for the spoken word since the ear is the worst receptor of information. You hear it once and then it’s gone. The easier the sentence is, the easier it is to understand.

The ‘Because of Due to’ battle goes back to my pre-college days

When I was still in high school, I attended a summer journalism workshop at USC. (That’s the University of South Carolina, the real USC, thank you very much.) One of the topics was copyediting. The professor who covered copyediting — I wish I could remember his name — had several pet peeves at the top of his list. Due to was certainly at the top of the list.

“‘Due to’ means ’caused by,’ not ‘because of,” he said. “If you mean ‘because,’ write ‘because.'”

There were a handful of things he caught every time and pulled out his red pencil. Due to was one of them. For whatever reason, it stuck.

Yes, I’ve fought the battle of because or due to before, and here’s an example.

But to make it easier: “due to” means “caused by” unless you’re talking about a time reference of when something is or was expected to happen. We’ll set that second meaning aside since it is not at play in this scenario.

Because of or due to? The complicated way and the easy way

If you want a technical explanation of the difference, I’ll give it to you. Due to is an adjective phrase. It describes a noun, not a verb. Because of is an adverbial phrase. It describes a verb, not a noun.

Consider this sentence:

  • Due to illness, the restaurant closed its kitchen today.

Due to, in this sentence, would have to modify closed, which is a verb. So due to would be the wrong choice since you’d need an adverbial phrase. You’d have to rewrite it this way:

  • Because of illness, the restaurant closed its kitchen today.

It would sound less awkward if you reversed the sentence:

  • The restaurant closed its kitchen due to illness.
  • The restaurant closed its kitchen because of illness.

For these two sentences, the verb closed is the word either due to or because of modifies. Adverbs modify verbs. You’d need the adverbial phrase, which is because of.

The easy way, however, involves looking at the sentence with due to:

  • The restaurant closed its kitchen due to illness.

To correctly use due to, meaning “caused by,” you’ll almost always need a helping verb like is or was. Just substitute the words caused by. Does the sentence still make sense without adding a helping verb like is or was? In this case, it doesn’t read correctly to say, “The restaurant closed its kitchen caused by illness.” So you need because of.

I told you there was an easy way to know which one is right!

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.