GMAT Preparation

When to Use ‘Because of’ and ‘Due to’ ?

Did you ever wonder what is the difference between the phrases ‘Because of’ and ‘Due to’ ? Is there even a difference or are they same? The confusion is quite possible and can be cleared if you look at them logically! Let’s find out –

The correct usage of 'because of' and 'due to' in English language

1. “Due to” Vs “Because of”

In everyday language, it is quite common to use the two expressions “due to” and “because of” interchangeably while trying to present the reason/cause behind something/some action.

Observe the following exchange:

• Carmen: Robert failed in the exam DUE TO a lack of preparedness on his part.
• Denise: I think his failure in the exam is BECAUSE OF his overconfidence.

In both the cases, a reason is being given behind the action or verb “failed”. And to an observer, there is hardly any difference in the meaning.

Are then we to understand that the two expressions mean the same and can be used interchangeably?

No. The two have different functions and therefore cannot be used interchangeably. Let’s look at each individually

2. Due to – Modifies the Noun

“Due to” functions as a modifier of nouns. It can only be used to provide the reason behind a noun and not a verb. For example, in the above conversation:

Carmen : Robert failed in the exam DUE TO a lack of preparedness on his part.

“Due to” is telling us – why Robert failed. Thus, “due to” is modifying the action or verb “failed” and therefore, the use of “due to” is incorrect in this sentence.

If we wanted to correctly use “due to” in this sentence, we would have to restructure the sentence as follows:

Robert’s failure in the examination was DUE TO a lack of preparedness on his part.

Now the phrase “due to” is telling us the reason behind the noun “failure” – what was the reason being Robert’s failure?…..A lack of preparedness on his part.

3. Because of  – Modifies the Verb

“Because of” functions as a modifier of verbs. It can only be used to provide the reason behind a verb or an action and not a noun. For example, in the above conversation:

Denise: I think he failed in the exam BECAUSE OF his overconfidence.

“Because of” is telling us – why he failed. Thus, “because of” is modifying the action or verb “failed” and therefore, the use of “because of” is correct in this sentence.

Had the structure of the above sentence been as follows, the usage of “because of” would have been incorrect:

Robert’s failure in the examination was BECAUSE OF a lack of preparedness on his part.

Now, the phrase “because of” is telling us the reason behind the noun “failure” – what was the reason being Robert’s failure?

4. How to check for correct usage of “due to” and “because of”?

There is a simple way of checking whether the usage of “due to” is correct in a sentence.

Replace “due to” with “caused by”.

If the sentence makes sense, the usage of “due to” is correct. If it does not, then use of “due to” is not correct.

Let’s apply this in the previous sentence:

Carmen: Robert failed in the exam DUE TO CAUSED BY a lack of preparedness on his part

The above sentence implies the “exam” was caused by a lack of preparedness and this is illogical. Thus, in the above sentence, the usage of “due to” is incorrect and a “because of” is required.

Let’s apply the above method in another sentence:

Robert’s failure in the examination was DUE TO CAUSED BY a lack of preparedness on his part.

This sentence makes sense even after replacing “due to” with “caused by”. Thus, here the usage of “due to” is correct.

5. Testing the usage  of “due to” in an official question.

In late 1997, the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza were closed to visitors for cleaning and repair due to moisture exhaled by tourists, which raised its humidity to such levels so that salt from the stone was crystallizing and fungus was growing on the walls.

(A) due to moisture exhaled by tourists, which raised its humidity to such levels so that salt from the stone was crystallizing

(B) due to moisture that tourists had exhaled, thereby raising its humidity to such levels that salt from the stone would crystallize

(C) because tourists were exhaling moisture, which had raised the humidity within them to levels such that salt from the stone would crystallize

(D) because of moisture that was exhaled by tourists raising the humidity within them to levels so high as to make the salt from the stone crystallize

(E) because moisture exhaled by tourists had raised the humidity within them to such levels that salt from the stone was crystallizing

Solution

Step 1: Understanding Intended Meaning

In late 1997, the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza were closed to visitors for cleaning and repair

  • We are talking about the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza.
  • In late 1997, the chambers were closed to visitors for the purpose of cleaning and repair.

due to moisture exhaled by tourists,

  • Incorrect usage of “due to”.
    • Clearly the intended meaning is to convey why the chambers were closed for cleaning and repair. Thus, the reason behind the verb “closed” is being stated. For indicating the reason behind the verb, we should use “because of”.

which raised its humidity to such levels so that salt from the stone was crystallizing and fungus was growing on the walls

  • “which” incorrectly refers to tourists whereas it should be referring to the moisture. Modified entity- Modifier does not agree logically
  • The singular “its” is being used to refer to the plural “chambers” – Noun-Pronoun pair does not agree in number
  • The use of expression “such” with so that” is also incorrect and awkward.

Intended meaning:

  • We are talking about the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza.
  • In late 1997, the chambers were closed to visitors for the purpose of cleaning and repair because
  • the moisture exhaled by tourists had raised the chambers’ humidity levels to such an extent that the stone was crystallizing and fungus was growing on the walls.

Step 2: Eliminate choices with identified errors

Checking for five aspects:

  1. Golden rules
    • Modified entity- Modifier does not agree logically
    • Noun-Pronoun pair does not agree in number
  2. Meaning
    • The sentence does not convey any logical meaning.
  3. Lists
    • No error
  4. Tenses
    • No error
  5. Idioms
    • Incorrect use of “due to”
    • “such” with so that” is also incorrect

Eliminate:

The following choice/s have one or more of the errors present in Choice A.

Choice B.

Step 3: Evaluate meaning of remaining choices

To be done for Option C, D and E . Detailed out below each choice –

Choice A Analysis
Incorrect and Eliminated in Step 2

Choice B Analysis
Incorrect and Eliminated in Step 2

Choice C Analysis
Fitting in the original sentence:

In late 1997, the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza were closed to visitors for cleaning and repair because tourists were exhaling moisture, which had raised the humidity within them to levels such that salt from the stone would crystallize and fungus was growing on the walls.

  • The use of past progressive “were inhaling” is inappropriate
  • “salt would crystallize” is not parallel to “fungus was growing”.

Incorrect Choice.

Choice D Analysis
Fitting in the original sentence:

In late 1997, the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza were closed to visitors for cleaning and repair because of moisture that was exhaled by tourists raising the humidity within them to levels so high as to make the salt from the stone crystallize and fungus was growing on the walls.

  • “raising humidity” appears to modify “tourists”
  • Parallelism error – “salt…crystallize” is not parallel to “fungus was growing”

Incorrect Choice.

Choice E Analysis
Fitting in the original sentence:

In late 1997, the chambers inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Menkaure at Giza were closed to visitors for cleaning and repair because moisture exhaled by tourists had raised the humidity within them to such levels that salt from the stone was crystallizing and fungus was growing on the walls.

  • Logical
  • Clear
  • Same as the intended meaning

Correct Choice.

6. Takeaways

  • “Due to” and “because of” cannot be used interchangeably.
  • “Due to” can only be used to modify nouns
  • “Because of” can only be used to modify actions or verbs
  • If replacing “due to” with “caused by” results in an illogical construction, then the use of “due to” is incorrect.

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