Editing Tip: “Due To” and “Because Of”

  • 'Due to' and 'because of' can sometimes be interchanged but actually have some nuances related to their use
  • 'Due' is an adjective, although the phrase 'due to' is increasingly used adverbially or prepositionally
  • 'Due to the fact that' can often be replaced by 'because,' shortening text considerably

Updated on March 18, 2014

aje editing tips

In this tip, we tackle two terms that can sometimes be interchanged but actually have some nuances related to their use: due to and because (of). Whereas because is a strict conjunction that only ever expresses causal logic (e.g., “for the reason that”), due to is a bit more complicated.

'Due' is an adjective

Because due is an adjective, many grammar purists argue that the phrase due to ought to be used as an adjectival phrase (that is, serving the same function within a sentence). Thus, many style guides (such as the Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk & White) suggest that due to should be synonymous with attributable to. For example, a traditional grammarian would say “The accident was due to poor weather” or “The airline is experiencing delays due to poor weather” but not “The plane was delayed due to poor weather.” In the final example, you can't substitute attributable to because due to does not directly modify a noun.

Nevertheless, despite the reservations of conservative grammarians, due to is widely used as a synonym for because, regardless of whether the construction is prepositional, adjectival, or adverbial. In fact, it has been used this way since the 14th century, according to the Random House Dictionary.

Extraneous words

Rather than worrying about whether the phrase is used adjectivally or adverbially, it may be more productive to focus on problems that often accompany an adverbial due to. For example, many due to phrases can be excessively wordy. Compare the following:

  • The man was unhappy due to the fact that his taxi was late.

When you run into such drawn-out causal phrases in your writing, a simple because may help eliminate wordiness. In this case, the second sentence is much more succinct.

We hope that this note helps avoid confusion with two terms found frequently in academic writing. If you have questions about a specific example, drop us an email. AJE wishes you the best of luck with your writing!

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