Because, Owing, Due to…

I have taken a leaf from André Racicot and have decided to consecrate this blog entry to a specific English grammar concept. Since I have recently been fascinated by the use of because, owing to, and due to in English writing, I thought about writing something on the subject.

How many times have you seen or heard some the following sentences?

I drove due to the rain.

Due to the inclement weather, today’s soccer match has been cancelled.

We could not publish the report as scheduled due to the lack of sufficient data.

What is wrong with the above examples?

According to consulted resources, due to in the given examples is incorrect because due to does not immediately follow the noun it modifies. In addition, the above uses are not followed by a “to be” verb form. The solution? Think of replacing due to with because, owing to, since, or as, depending on the context. The above sentences should read:

I drove because of the rain. (Because of modifies verbs, not nouns.)

Today’s soccer match has been cancelled because of inclement weather.

Since/Because we lacked sufficient data, we could not publish the report as scheduled. (Or: Owing to insufficient data…)

If you’re a concise writing fanatic, you noticed that because and since can easily replace a number of wordy structures such as due to the fact that.

Before moving forward, allow me to provide examples that show how due to is used correctly.

My fitness is due to regular exercise.

The train is due to leave Montreal at 4:00 p.m.

Why is due to correct in the above sentences? In the first case, due to follows to be (represented by “is”), and is modified by fitness. (Due to, therefore, modifies nouns, not verbs.) Other equivalents of due to may also be used in such a context, including attributable to, caused by, or resulting from. In the second case, due to replaces supposed to, and is therefore grammatically correct.

In closing, let me address the use—or lack thereof—of due to, because, since, owing to, and so on in a translation context. In foreign-language texts, as in the case of French and Spanish, it is fairly common to see à cause de/en raison de or por causa de/por (en) razón (razones) de/debido a throughout. Don’t be fooled in to thinking that due to is the be-all translation solution. As always, let the context guide you to the appropriate conjunction or phrase equivalent. Also remember that foreign-language texts tend to be wordy! For example, Spanish and French frequently use deberse al hecho de que/par le fait que/dû au fait que. You may have the knee-jerk reaction to translate the above as due to the fact that. Like English writing, concise structures are generally favoured over wordiness in translation. Because, owing to, or since are your best friends when translating. Shorter is better!

Below are some websites you may consult for more information on due to and other equivalents:


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