Expressing Cause and Effect, Contrast, and Condition with Connectives (Part One)
In previous lessons we’ve shown how to use adverb clauses and modifying adverbial phrases to express cause and effect, contrast, and condition. The words that introduce adverb clauses belong to a category of English words known as connectives that join one part of a sentence to another. Other types of connectives can also be used to express some of the same ideas that adverb clauses can. These other connectives are: prepositions, transitions, and conjunctions.
In this lesson, we’re going to discuss how these additional connectives can be used to express cause and effect and purpose. In the next lesson, we’ll wrap up connectives by looking at how they are used in expressions of contrast and condition.
Cause and Effect: “Because Of” and “Due To”
Adverb clauses introduced by because express cause and effect relationships:
Because it was raining, I wore a hooded sweatshirt.
Because of and due to are phrasal prepositions. They express the same cause-effect relationship
as because. However, a preposition is followed by a noun object, not by a subject and a verb:
Because of the rain, I wore a hooded sweatshirt.
Due to the rain, I wore a hooded sweatshirt.
Occasionally, you will see due to followed by a noun clause introduced by the fact that. This occurs primarily in older and very formal writing. Native English speakers rarely use it in conversations or informal writing:
Due to the fact that it was raining, I wore hooded sweatshirt.
Like adverb clauses, phrasal prepositions can also follow the main clause. Note the lack of a comma in these instances:
I wore a hooded sweatshirt because of the rain.
I wore a hooded sweatshirt due to the rain.
I wore hooded sweatshirt due to the fact that it was raining.
Cause and Effect: “Therefore, Consequently, and So”
Transitions connect ideas between two sentences. They are used commonly in formal writing but rarely in spoken English. The transitions therefore and consequently mean “as a result.” They occur in the second of two related sentences and can have a variety of positions within the second sentence. Compare the following examples, which all have the same meaning:
Sam was late for work because she overslept.
Sam overslept. Therefore, she was late for work.
Sam overslept. She, therefore, was late for work.
Sam overslept. She was late for work, therefore.
So is a conjunction that has the same meaning as therefore. Because it is a conjunction, so uses a comma, not a period, to connect two related independent clauses:
Sam overslept, so she was late for work.
Expressing Cause and Effect with “Such…That” and “So…That”
Such…that and so…that express cause and effect by enclosing other parts of speech. Such…that encloses a modified noun (such + adjective + noun + that):
It was such a nice day that I ate my lunch outside.
It was such a good movie that I saw it a second time.
So…that encloses an adjective or adverb (so + adjective/adverb + that):
The drink was so cold that it made my teeth hurt.
James speaks so slowly that I lose interest in what he is saying.
You can use so…that with many, few, much, and more to help express quantity:
Sarah’s section of the report contained so many grammar errors that I had to completely rewrite it.
Mike has so few days off that I rarely get to see him.
Julie makes so much money that she can go out for dinner whenever she wants.
Robert had so little trouble with the assignment that he finished it the day it was assigned.
Native English speakers often omit the that when speaking or writing informally:
I was so hungry (that) I ate an entire pizza for dinner.
Using “So That” to Express Purpose
So that (with no words in between) expresses purpose. It has the same meaning as “in order to”:
I cleaned up the living room in order to enable my roommate to vacuum the floor.
I cleaned up the living room so (that) my roommate could vacuum the floor.
I cleaned up the living room for a purpose. The purpose was to make it possible for my roommate to vacuum the floor without having to move things out of the way.
So that is often used instead of in order to when ability is being expressed. Pairing so that with can/could is the same as saying “in order to be able to”:
I’m going to cash my paycheck so that I can buy groceries.
I cashed my paycheck so that I could buy groceries.
Combining so that with will, would, or a simple present tense verb is the same as saying “in order to make sure that.” Will is used in expressing present tense. Would expresses past tense. Using a simply present verb in place of will/would expresses future tense:
I’ll wear a hooded sweatshirt so that I won’t get my hair wet.
I wore a hooded sweatshirt so that I wouldn’t get my hair wet.
I’ll wear a hooded sweatshirt so that I don’t get my hair wet.