Causes And Effects Essay Structure

What is a Cause and Effect Essay?

A cause and effect essay can be defined as,

“ A paragraph or essay form which probes and analyzes into the causes (rationale, reasoning and background reasons) along with the effects (consequences, effects and outcome) for a particular event, happening, condition or behavior”.

Typically, students might confuse themselves between a cause and effect essay and a compare and contrast essay. A cause and effect essay concentrates on the ability of the writer to hook up the reasons why things happened and lead to the particular consequences. In addition, the writer approaches the sequence of events linearly, further analyzing the reasons and impact vigilantly.

The Domino Effect

At times, an event might trigger another event or  happening, which may lead to another event, and it causes another event to happen. This is known as the causal chain or domino effect.

Format and Outline of a Standard Cause and Effect Essay

Introduction

The introduction consists of statement of thesis topic, thesis statement, background information and analysis and literature review, if required. The thesis statement is followed up with by the statement of the main issue by describing the cause in detail with explicit illustration of circumstances.

First Body Paragraph

The first paragraph of a cause and effect essay introduces and describes the first reason which renders the thesis statement or hypothesis true. It is followed up by a detailed description and explanation of the primary reason along with background information or examples and related material.

Second Body Paragraph

The second paragraph of a cause and effect essay brings in and describes the secondary reason which renders the thesis statement or hypothesis true. It is followed up by a detailed description and explanation of the second reason along with establishing a relationship between the primary and secondary reasons or causes.

Third Body Paragraph

The third paragraph of a cause and effect essay states the last and final  reason which effects the main thesis statement and the primary and secondary causes. It establishes a correlation and interdependence among the 3 reasons by means of implementing deductive analysis.

Conclusion

The conclusion recaps the whole essay in general and explicitly states the deductive reasoning, earlier established from the causes in a categorical order.

Types of Casual Relationships in Cause and Effect Essays

Necessary Causes

A necessary cause is one which needs to be essentially present for a particular event or happening to occur. A sufficient cause may or may not be accompanied by other causes.

Example: Scientific causes e.g. Global warming, natural causes and universal cause and effect relationships.

Sufficient Causes

A sufficient cause is one which has the ability to produce a certain type of effect independently but might not be the only source of inducing the designated cause and may or may not be accompanied by other causes.

Example: Social causes e.g. divorce, teenage violence, homosexuality etc.

Contributory Causes

A contributory cause is an impetus which aids in producing a specific effect or outcome but is not capable of inducing the effect in its independent capacity. A contributory cause is necessarily accompanied by other causes.

Example: Accidents and events like cars accident or a particular event.

Guide Tips for Drafting Cause and Effect Essays

Writing Style

The writing style for a cause and effect essay typically makes use of casual chains, logical flow of events, systematic order of events and happenings.  The writer should make use of deductive analysis of the existing data to reach provide a logical reasoning of the particular happening.

Organization

To organize your cause and effect essay, write down all the possible causes that come into your mind for the specific effect.

Next, narrow down and categorize the causes into parent causes. For example if your are working on the causes of divorce then you can make parent categories of internal, external, family specific and natural causes and then assign the sub-causes like lack of tolerance, financial issues,  work issues into each parent cause.

Format an outline map of your cause and direct inducements. Then, you can adjust the map into your essay structure by formatting transition words and sentences.

Words and Phrases for Sentence Development in Cause and Effect Essay Writing

as a result

certainly

above all

because

may

equally important

therefore

undoubtedly

One reason why …

There are other reasons, too, …

consequently

necessarily

finally

due to

perhaps

first

thus

primarily

One of the most important reasons why …

possibly

initially

leads to

probably

last

unquestionably

second

thereof

The main reasons why

 

Learning Objectives

  1. Determine the purpose and structure of cause and effect in writing.
  2. Understand how to write a cause-and-effect essay.

The Purpose of Cause and Effect in Writing

It is often considered human nature to ask, “why?” and “how?” We want to know how our child got sick so we can better prevent it from happening in the future, or why our colleague a pay raise because we want one as well. We want to know how much money we will save over the long term if we buy a hybrid car. These examples identify only a few of the relationships we think about in our lives, but each shows the importance of understanding cause and effect.

A cause is something that produces an event or condition; an effect is what results from an event or condition. The purpose of the cause-and-effect essay is to determine how various phenomena relate in terms of origins and results. Sometimes the connection between cause and effect is clear, but often determining the exact relationship between the two is very difficult. For example, the following effects of a cold may be easily identifiable: a sore throat, runny nose, and a cough. But determining the cause of the sickness can be far more difficult. A number of causes are possible, and to complicate matters, these possible causes could have combined to cause the sickness. That is, more than one cause may be responsible for any given effect. Therefore, cause-and-effect discussions are often complicated and frequently lead to debates and arguments.

Tip

Use the complex nature of cause and effect to your advantage. Often it is not necessary, or even possible, to find the exact cause of an event or to name the exact effect. So, when formulating a thesis, you can claim one of a number of causes or effects to be the primary, or main, cause or effect. As soon as you claim that one cause or one effect is more crucial than the others, you have developed a thesis.

Exercise 1

Consider the causes and effects in the following thesis statements. List a cause and effect for each one on your own sheet of paper.

  1. The growing childhood obesity epidemic is a result of technology.
  2. Much of the wildlife is dying because of the oil spill.
  3. The town continued programs that it could no longer afford, so it went bankrupt.
  4. More young people became politically active as use of the Internet spread throughout society.
  5. While many experts believed the rise in violence was due to the poor economy, it was really due to the summer-long heat wave.

Exercise 2

Write three cause-and-effect thesis statements of your own for each of the following five broad topics.

  1. Health and nutrition
  2. Sports
  3. Media
  4. Politics
  5. History

The Structure of a Cause-and-Effect Essay

The cause-and-effect essay opens with a general introduction to the topic, which then leads to a thesis that states the main cause, main effect, or various causes and effects of a condition or event.

The cause-and-effect essay can be organized in one of the following two primary ways:

  1. Start with the cause and then talk about the effects.
  2. Start with the effect and then talk about the causes.

For example, if your essay were on childhood obesity, you could start by talking about the effect of childhood obesity and then discuss the cause or you could start the same essay by talking about the cause of childhood obesity and then move to the effect.

Regardless of which structure you choose, be sure to explain each element of the essay fully and completely. Explaining complex relationships requires the full use of evidence, such as scientific studies, expert testimony, statistics, and anecdotes.

Because cause-and-effect essays determine how phenomena are linked, they make frequent use of certain words and phrases that denote such linkage. See Table 10.4 “Phrases of Causation” for examples of such terms.

Table 10.4 Phrases of Causation

as a resultconsequently
becausedue to
hencesince
thustherefore

The conclusion should wrap up the discussion and reinforce the thesis, leaving the reader with a clear understanding of the relationship that was analyzed.

Tip

Be careful of resorting to empty speculation. In writing, speculation amounts to unsubstantiated guessing. Writers are particularly prone to such trappings in cause-and-effect arguments due to the complex nature of finding links between phenomena. Be sure to have clear evidence to support the claims that you make.

Exercise 3

Look at some of the cause-and-effect relationships from Note 10.83 “Exercise 2”. Outline the links you listed. Outline one using a cause-then-effect structure. Outline the other using the effect-then-cause structure.

Writing a Cause-and-Effect Essay

Choose an event or condition that you think has an interesting cause-and-effect relationship. Introduce your topic in an engaging way. End your introduction with a thesis that states the main cause, the main effect, or both.

Organize your essay by starting with either the cause-then-effect structure or the effect-then-cause structure. Within each section, you should clearly explain and support the causes and effects using a full range of evidence. If you are writing about multiple causes or multiple effects, you may choose to sequence either in terms of order of importance. In other words, order the causes from least to most important (or vice versa), or order the effects from least important to most important (or vice versa).

Use the phrases of causation when trying to forge connections between various events or conditions. This will help organize your ideas and orient the reader. End your essay with a conclusion that summarizes your main points and reinforces your thesis. See Chapter 15 “Readings: Examples of Essays” to read a sample cause-and-effect essay.

Exercise 4

Choose one of the ideas you outlined in Note 10.85 “Exercise 3” and write a full cause-and-effect essay. Be sure to include an engaging introduction, a clear thesis, strong evidence and examples, and a thoughtful conclusion.

Key Takeaways

  • The purpose of the cause-and-effect essay is to determine how various phenomena are related.
  • The thesis states what the writer sees as the main cause, main effect, or various causes and effects of a condition or event.
  • The cause-and-effect essay can be organized in one of these two primary ways:

    1. Start with the cause and then talk about the effect.
    2. Start with the effect and then talk about the cause.
  • Strong evidence is particularly important in the cause-and-effect essay due to the complexity of determining connections between phenomena.
  • Phrases of causation are helpful in signaling links between various elements in the essay.

This is a derivative of Writing for Success by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA. This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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