Cause & effect essaysAka reason and result

Cause and effect essays are another common essay type, either as an essay type on its own, or as part of a larger essay which includes one or more paragraphs examining causes and effects. This page gives information on what a cause and effect essay is, how to structure this type of essay, how to use cause and effect structure words (transition signals) for this type of essay. There is also an example cause and effect essay on the topic of women at work.


What are cause & effect essays?

A cause and effect essay looks at the reasons (or causes) for something, then discusses the results (or effects). For this reason, cause and effect essays are sometimes referred to as reason and result essays. They are one of the most common forms of organisation in academic writing. Sometimes the whole essay will be cause and effect, though sometimes this may be only part of the whole essay. It is also possible, especially for short exam essays, that only the causes or the effects, not both, are discussed. See the examples below.

  • Discuss the causes and effects of global warming ['cause and effect' essay]
  • Explain the high death rate in Chernobyl ['causes' only essay]
  • Discuss the WTO and its effects on the Chinese economy ['effects' only essay]

Structure

There are two main ways to structure a cause & effect essay. These are similar to the ways to structure problem-solution essays, namely using a block or a chain structure. For the block structure, all of the causes are listed first, and all of the effects are listed afterwards. For the chain structure, each cause is followed immediately by the effect. Usually that effect will then be the cause of the next effect, which is why this structure is called 'chain'. Both types of structure have their merits. The former is generally clearer, especially for shorter essays, while the latter ensures that any effects you present relate directly to the causes you have given.


Advertisement




The two types of structure, block and chain, are shown in the diagram below.


Block

Introduction
Cause 1
Cause 2
Transition sentence/paragraph
Effect 1
Effect 2
Conclusion


Chain

Introduction
Cause 1
&
Effect of Cause 1
Cause 2
&
Effect of Cause 2
Cause 3
&
Effect of Cause 3
Conclusion

Cause and Effect Structure Words

Cause and effect structure words are transition signals which show the cause and effect relationships. It is important to be clear which is the cause (or reason) and which is the effect (or result), and to use the correct transition word or phrase. Remember that a cause happens first, and the effect happens later.


Below are some common cause and effect structure words. X is used to indicate a cause, while Y is used to indicate the effect.


Cause
  • The first cause of (Y) is (X)
  • The next reason is (X)
  • Because of (X), (Y)
  • As a result of (X), (Y)
  • As a consequence of (X), (Y)
  • because/since/as (X)
  • to result from (X)
  • (X) results in (Y)
  • to be the result of (X)
  • (Y) is due to (X)
  • Owing to (X), (Y)
  • (Y) is because of (X)
  • (Y) is the effect of (X)
  • (Y) is the consequence of (X)

Examples
  • Worsening pollution levels in cities are due to the increased use of cars.
  • Because of the increased use of cars, pollution levels in cities are worsening.
  • As a result of the increased use of cars, pollution levels in cities are worsening.
  • The effect of the increased use of cars is a worsening of pollution levels in cities.

Effect
  • The first effect of (X) is (Y)
  • Another resultof (X) is (Y)
  • As a result, (Y)
  • As a consequence, (Y)
  • Consequently (Y)
  • Therefore, (Y)
  • Thus (Y)
  • Hence (Y)
  • (X) results in (Y)
  • (X) causes (Y)
  • (X) has an effect on (Y)
  • (X) affects (Y)
  • (X) is one of the causes of (Y)
  • (X) is the reason for (Y)

Examples
  • Cars are used increasingly for urban transport. As a consequence, pollution levels in cities are worsening.
  • Increased use of cars for urban transport adversely affects pollution levels in cities.
  • Increased use of cars for urban transport is one of the causes of worsening pollution levels in cities.

Example essay

Below is a cause and effect essay. This essay uses the block structure. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. Causes, Effects, and structure words. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary, as these repeat the causes and effects contained in the main body.


Title: More and more women are now going out to work and some women are now the major salary earner in the family. What are the causes of this, and what effect is this having on families and society?


Causes
 
Effects
  
1
2
3
   
Cause transitions
 
Effect transitions

In the past, most women stayed at home to take care of domestic chores such as cooking or cleaning. Women's liberation and feminism have meant that this situation has been transformed. This has had significant consequences, both in terms of the family, for example by improving quality of life and increasing children's sense of independence, and also for society itself with greater gender equality.

The main cause of more equal rights to women has been women's liberation and feminism. The women's liberation movement originated in the 1960s and was popularised by authors such as Simone de Beauvoir. As a consequence of this, new legislation emerged, granting women equal rights to men in many fields, in particular employment. Because of feminist ideas, men have taken up roles which were previously seen as being for women only, most importantly those related to child rearing. As a result of this, women have more time to pursue their own careers and interests.

These have led to some significant effects, both to family life and to society as a whole.

Although the earning capacity of a woman in her lifetime is generally much less than that of a man, she can nevertheless make a significant contribution to the family income. The most important consequence of this is an improved quality of life. By helping to maintain a steady income for the family, the pressure on the husband is considerably reduced, hence improving both the husband's and the wife's emotional wellbeing. Additionally, the purchasing power of the family will also be raised. This means that the family can afford more luxuries such as foreign travel and a family car.

A further effect on the family is the promotion of independence in the children. Some might argue that having both parents working might be damaging to the children because of a lack of parental attention. However, such children have to learn to look after themselves at an earlier age, and their parents often rely on them to help with the housework. This therefore teaches them important life skills.

As regards society, the most significant impact of women going to work is greater gender equality. There are an increasing number of women who are becoming politicians, lawyers, and even CEOs and company managers. This in turn has led to greater equality for women in all areas of life, not just employment. For example, women today have much stronger legal rights to protect themselves against domestic violence and sexual discrimination in the workplace.

In conclusion, the increasing number of women at work has brought about some important changes to family life, including improved quality of life and increased independence for children, as well as affecting society itself. It is clear that the sexes are still a long way from being equal in all areas of life, however, and perhaps the challenge for the present century is to ensure that this takes place.

Causes
 
Effects
1
2
3
 
Cause transitions
 
Effect transitions



Checklist

Below is a checklist for the main body of an essay. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.


Item OK? Comment
The essay is a cause and effect essay
An appropriate structure is used, either block or chain
Cause and effect structure words are used accurately
The essay has clear thesis statement
Each paragraph has a clear topic sentence
The essay has strong support (facts, reasons, examples, etc.)
The conclusion include a summary of the main points



Next section

Find out how to write problem-solution essays in the next section.




Previous section

Go back to the previous section about compare & contrast essays.







Advertisement


Scroll to Top

Newsletter 

If you would like to receive a periodic newsletter for the site, please fill out your email address and details below.


Email:          

Name:          

Occupation 


Select the areas you are interested in learning more about:

 EAP study

 EAP books

 EAP websites

 Exam tips

 Teaching ideas

 Life overseas

 

Contact Info  

I'd love to hear from students or teachers who use the site. Whether you want to give feedback or just ask a question about EAP, feel free to email me at: contact@eapfoundation.com.



 


EAPFOUNDATION.COM Website Copyright © 2013-present by Sheldon C H Smith