Paragraphs of Cause-Effect
“Cause” basically means the source of something or the reasons why or for something. “Effect” is simply the result or outcome. Therefore “cause and effect” is the causal relationship between two or more actions or two events. In reality, a cause precedes the effect, but in a statement either the cause or effect can precede the other. Look at the following statements:
- The accumulation of greenhouse gases has caused global climate change.
- I couldn’t boot my computer because the battery was dead.
- Since cell motorcycless have come down so much in price, everyone can have one.
In sentence (1), “the accumulation of greenhouse gases” is the cause or reason, while ”the global climate change” is the result. In sentence (2) the result, i.e. “I couldn’t boot my computer” precedes the cause—“the battery was dead”. In sentence (3), “motorcycles have come down so much in price” is the cause, whereas “everyone can have one” is the result.
As a method of development in writing, cause-and-effect is the search for the relationship between two or more actions or events, one or some of which we conclude is the reason for the other action(s) or event(s).
Transitions Commonly Used in Cause and Effect
In the writings that examine a causal relationship, one or more of the following transitions are commonly used. Study the terms and make yourself familiar with them.
1. Common transitions for cause:
- the reason . . . is that
- caused by
- results from
- because of + noun phrase
- due to + noun phrase
2. Common transitions for effect
- as a result
- resulted in
- for this reason
- for this reason
Three Varieties of Cause and Effect Paragraphs
Cause and effect paragraphs could be written in one of these three types. First, the paragraph that focuses on causes, i.e. the one which describes what happens and why it happens. Second, the paragraph that focuses on effects, i.e., the one which explains reasons and consequences of an idea or event. Finally, chain of causes and effects, i.e. the paragraph that shows how an action or event becomes the cause of another action or event, and this result becomes the cause of another result, and so on. To see the differences among these three paragraphs, look at the following examples. The first paragraph focuses on causes, the second focuses on effects, and the last is a chain of causes and effects.
Growing numbers of well-to-do Americans are making the decision to move to more rural parts of the country. From their point of view, it is impossible to walk the streets of a big city at night without fear of being raped, mugged, or murdered. They claim, too, that city is poisonous, more lethal than cigarette smoke, thanks to the ever-increasing traffic congestion. In addition, they complain that the food, filled with chemical additives used to preserve the appearance of freshness, grows worse with every passing day. Last but not least, fugitives from city life claim that the pace of urban living exhausts them, leaving them without the energy to enjoy the entertainment a large city supposedly offers.
The emotion of fear sets off many changes in your body. When you become frightened, you breathe more deeply, giving your muscles more oxygen and greater energy. Your hearts beats more powerfully so that your blood circulates faster, carrying oxygen to all parts of your body. Your stomach and intestines no longer contract and all digestive action stops. No saliva flows in your mouth and your throat becomes dry. Your face becomes pale and the tiny blood vessels shrink under the skin so that less blood would flow if you were cut. The blood can clot faster so that there would be less bleeding from a wound. The pupils of your eyes enlarge, admitting more light during the emergency. You might be able to perform great feats of strength in this condition.
There are more old people in the world today because of an increase in medical services. Today, more people can get medical services from doctors and nurses in hospitals and clinics. As a result, fewer people get fatal disease such as yellow fever, malaria, cholera, and typhoid. This decrease in fatal diseases causes a decrease in the number of people who die from these diseases. Because of this decrease in number of deaths, people can live longer today. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of old people living in the world today.