What is a Cause and Effect Essay?Friday, May 14th, 2010
Cause and effect essays organize methodically the ideas
In order to write a good cause and effect essay, you must first be sure that you understand what is the difference between cause and effect and what they really are. In simple words, causes are reasons why certain things happen, and effects are the results. And cause and effect essays are concerned with both of them, since cause and effect is a common and useful method of organizing and discussing ideas.
This kind of essay can have two basic purposes: to inform or persuade. The first one just provides basic facts. But, if you choose the second one as your main purpose, you will need to apply certain writing techniques in order to persuade the reader to adopt your same point of view.
Is it a cause or an effect?
In order to distinguish causes from effects, note that, for determining causes, you should ask “why did this happen?”, while, for determining effects, you should ask “What happened because of this?”. For example, the cause of teenage pregnancy can be misinformation regarding birth control methods, and the effects are higher rates of school abandonment or future lower incomes for the young mothers.
But that is not the only possibility. Most of the times, there are plenty of causes leading to a significant effect: for example, air pollution, where the causes are lack of government control, uncontrolled factory gases, cars –to name a few. Other times an event has many effects: think of an economic recession, for example, and its consequences on employment, commerce, international trade, stock market, not to mention the effect on the mood of the general population!
How to organize the essay
When writing a cause and effect essay, you must start from developing your thesis statement. Introduce your main idea and don’t forget to use the terms “cause” and/or “effect”. Then, you must find and organize the body paragraphs, in which you provide supporting details in one of the following ways: order of importance, chronological (what happened first, what happened then) or categorical (dividing the topic in parts). Don’t forget to finish your essay with a conclusion that summarizes your main point.
Useful transition phrases
All good cause and effect essays use some transitional words and phrases, such as the ones listed below:
- For causes: on cause is, another is, since, for, first, second, because, due to, one reason why, the main reasons why.
- For effects: one result is, another is, therefore, consequently, as a result, resulted in, thus, so, as a consequence.
And, in case there is not a clear evidence that proofs that one event is directly related to another, you should qualify or limit each statement by using phrases such as “It seems likely”, “This evidence may indicate”, “It appears that, as a consequence…”, “Evidence suggests…”.
As a final tip, always keep in mind that those transition phrases are very useful, but you should not use more than strictly necessary, since too many of them will confuse the reader.