Due to vs. because of

Having some experience in teaching decided to write an article about an issue many of my students had. So the question I was asked many times was: “Is it due to or because of?”. Good question actually 🙂 with a relatively complex answer :). In this post I will try to explain when and how to use correctly due to and because of.

Rule #1: “Due to” is an adjectival prepositional phrase, meaning it modifies a noun. Thus, you cannot use this expression to present reason for an action in the clause. It is commonly preceded by a form of the verb to be (be, is, are, was, were, etc.). Because it follows a be verb, it is considered a subject complement. Here are some examples:

1. The game was postponed due to rain. (incorrect)
2. The game’s postponement was due to rain. (correct)

In sentence 1, use of “due to” is incorrect because it is used to explain “why the game was postponed”. In other words, it is used to explain the reason behind the “verb” or “action” in the clause. This is not idiomatically correct.

In sentence 2, use of “due to” is correct because it is used to explain the reason behind “the postponement”. In other words, it is used to explain the reason behind the “noun”. This is idiomatically correct.

Rule # 2: “Due to” is correct if the sentence makes sense when you replace “due to” with “caused by”. If, it does not, then use of “due to” is not correct.

1. The game was postponed caused by rain. (incorrect)

Thus, when “due to” is replaced with “caused by”, the sentence does not make sense. Let’s see below the correct sentence with the use of “caused by”:

2. The game’s postponement was caused by rain. (correct)

As you can see, when “due to” is replaced with “caused by”, the sentence makes complete sense. Hope this explanation helped you figure out how to use “due to” correctly.

Rule # 3: The expression “because of” is an adverbial prepositional phrase, meaning it modifies a verb. It usually answers the question, “Why?”. Thus, you can use this expression to present reason for an action in the clause. Sentence 1 above can be corrected by replacing “due to” with “because of”.

1. The game was postponed because of rain. (incorrect)

Remember:

  1. Use “due to” only to modify nouns.
  2. Usage of “due to” is correct, if the sentence makes sense when “due to” is replaced with “caused by”.
  3. Use “because of” to modify verbs.
  4. “Due to” & “because of” are not interchangeable.
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