Word Confusion: Because Of versus Due To

Posted October 30, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions

I sure opened up a can of worms. I’m not sure why I got the bug to explore because of versus due to, but it has been a confusion of words, for sure. Y’all will love it as it leaves options wide open for ya.

Further research indicates that because of “grew up” as an adverb, meaning because of only modifies verbs. Meanwhile, due to “grew up

as an adjective, which modifies only nouns or pronouns.

Conflict Over Because Of and Due To

I’ve added this section due to a conflict between authorities regarding because of versus due to — Merriam Webster is flexible while others are more particular.

TIP: Use because of if due to can be replaced by as a result of.

Merriam Webster is also flexible about due to.

TIP: GMAT suggests that if replacing due to with caused by sounds right, you’re good. If the sentence doesn’t sound right, due to is the wrong choice.

Merriam Webster Makes Choices Easier

Follow Merriam-Webster and you can do anything you like.

Pay attention to GMAT Club or Marjorie Skillin in Words into Type, and you’ll be parsing like nobody’s business. Hmmm, let me think which way most of you will choose, lol.

Making it easier to make the right choice for you:

  • Merriam-Webster is one of the dictionaries preferred by publishers and editors, so it carries a lot of weight
  • GMAT Club is an interactive MBA community that serves as a central point for business school applicants to improve their chances of getting into an MBA program
  • Words into Type is a go-to reference book for editors

I have to confess I’m partial to Merriam-Webster for fiction and the other two when it comes to non-fiction. Hope this helps!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Because Of Due To
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: because of and due to
Part of Grammar:
Adverbial Prepositional Phrase: Conjunction + Preposition Adjectival Phrase: Adjective + Preposition
Modifies (GMAT Club):

  • Verbs only
  • Entire clauses:
    • Answers the why for an action in the clause
    • Provides a description of the action

On account of
By reason of
As a result of
As a consequence of
Owing to
Due to
Thanks to
By virtue of
In virtue of
[Formal] By reason of
Modifies nouns and pronouns only

Caused by or ascribable to
Because of *,
Owing to **,

* Merriam-Webster lists because of as a synonym for due to

** Merriam-Webster accepts due to as an acceptable usage in place of owing to and states that it has been “recognized as a standard for decades”.

† Skillin (371) states you can’t use these phrases to define/replace due to because due to is a compound preposition.

They moved here because of the baby.

They were late because of the snowstorm.

The roads were slippery because of the rain.

It was because of her exceptionally high scores, she was able to start at Level 3.

It is cold in Arizona because of the westward storm coming from the Pacific (GMAT Club).

Because of modifies the clause presenting the reason why it is cold in Arizona.

Unemployment due to automation grew steadily.

Due to the rains, crops are rotting in the fields.

He had to withdraw due to a knee injury.

His failure was due to insufficient study.

Arizona’s cold wave is due to the westward storm coming from the Pacific (GMAT Club).

Arizona’s cold wave is caused by the westward storm coming from the Pacific.

History of the Word:
First known use: 14th century

Middle English from the phrase by cause was influenced by the Old French par cause de meaning by reason of.

First known use: 1897

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Due To versus Because Of” is courtesy of Rajat Sadana, via e-GMAT.