Did they cancel the baseball game due to the rain or because of the rain? Believe it or not, these phrases aren’t synonyms. Read on to learn about the slight distinction between due to and because of – and when to use each one.
You can usually identify adverbs when they end in -ly. For example:
- I walked home happily. (The adverb happily modifies the verb walked.)
- Shana quickly rescheduled her meeting. (The adverb quickly modifies the verb rescheduled.)
- The boys argued angrily. (The adverb angrily modifies the verb argued.)
Adverbial prepositional phrases with because of modify verbs in the exact same way. Here are the same sentences with because of instead of -ly words.
- I walked home because of the new bus schedule.
- Shana rescheduled her meeting because of a calendar conflict.
- The boys argued because of the broken toy.
These sentences explain why the actions are occurring with an adverbial prepositional phrase (because of + noun). If the prepositional phrases were complete clauses with their own verbs, you would just use because and not because of:
- I walked home because the bus was late.
- Shana rescheduled her meeting because there was a conflict in her calendar.
- The boys argued because one of them broke the toy.
Both because and because of can elaborate on the verb on the sentences. However, neither use is interchangeable with due to.
Due to is an adjective, which describes or modifies a noun. When combined with the rest of the sentence, it functions as an adjectival prepositional phrase. You can’t use due to in the same way as because of.
Here are some sentences that use due to when modifying a noun.
- The car accident was due to a distracted driver. (modifies car accident)
- Ivy’s success is due to her parents’ dedication and support. (modifies success)
- The company’s bankruptcy was due to poor financial management. (modifies bankruptcy).
If you try to replace due to with because of, it doesn’t sound completely incorrect. That’s why many writers make the mistake of using them interchangeably. If you want to use because of in these sentences, you’d need to add or change verbs that it could modify. For example:
- The car accident happened because of a distracted driver.
- Ivy succeeded because of her parents’ dedication and support.
- The company went bankrupt because of poor financial management.
The verb to be and all its forms (am, are, is, was, were) are the key to telling because of and due to apart. If a sentence has a version of to be, use due to. If it doesn’t, use because of. Here are some due to vs. because of example sentences:
- We fought because of our political differences. (Because of modifies the verb fought.)
Our fight was due to our political differences. (Was due to modifies the noun fight.)
- Aunt Sheri won the poker championship because of her experience in Las Vegas. (Because of modifies the verb won.)
Aunt Sheri’s poker victory was due to her experience in Las Vegas. (Was due to modifies the noun victory.)
- The financial crisis occurred because of risky mortgage practices. (Because of modifies the verb occurred.)
The financial crisis was due to risky mortgage practices. (Was due to modifies the noun crisis.)
- Jacob’s dog got out because of the broken gate. (Because of modifies the verb got.)
Jacob’s dog’s escape was due to the broken gate. (Was due to modifies the noun escape.)
The difference between these usages is subtle but important. If a sentence sounds awkward one day, you can always reword it to clarify your meaning. You’re more likely to find due to in formal writing, while because of is present in informal writing and conversational speech.
Many writers are more comfortable with due to at the beginning of a sentence than because of. They choose due to because they worry that starting a sentence with because might result in a sentence fragment. However, the opposite is actually correct. For example:
- Due to popular demand, the band agreed to have another concert.
It seems like due to is modifying demand. However, it’s actually modifying agreed – which is a verb. In that case, because of is the appropriate choice.
- Because of popular demand, the band agreed to have another concert.
There’s almost no instance when due to can start a sentence because there is no noun for it to modify. However, if you ensure that the sentence is not a fragment, starting a sentence with because or because of is perfectly acceptable. (If you still don’t like it, just include the adverbial prepositional phrase at the end of the sentence instead.)
If you find the words due to the fact in your writing, edit them out immediately. Using the word fact is an unnecessarily wordy way to use due to. For example:
- We’re canceling the party due to the fact that the ice rink is closed.
- Haley failed her class due to the fact that she skipped too many lectures.
- Perry’s garden is beautiful due to the fact that he cares for it every day.
These sentences are technically correct, because due to modifies the noun fact. However, they are wordy and difficult to read. One option is to use because of instead.
- We’re canceling the party because of the ice rink’s closure.
- Haley failed her class because of her missed lectures.
- Perry’s garden is beautiful because of his daily care.
Although better than before, these examples are still a little stilted because they only have one verb (canceling, failed, is). Try using because without the of as a subordinating conjunction. That way, you can include a verb in each clause.
- We’re canceling the party because the ice rink is closed.
- Haley failed her class because she skipped too many lectures.
- Perry’s garden is beautiful because he cares for it every day.
The bottom line is that you never need to use due to the fact that in your writing. The same goes for the clunky phrases like on the grounds that and owing to the fact that. Because is a great alternative that won’t give your reader a headache.