Speaking in Academic Contexts 

Rhetorical Functions in Academic Speaking: Cause and effect

Take the following sentence:

The death rate from cancer is increasing.

We might want to ask why this is happening. We want the cause of this. The reason, or the cause, is that:

People are smoking more.

The death rate from cancer is increasing is the effect.

People are smoking more is the cause.

Example

Read the following text and observe the cause and effect relationships.

There are several factors that we have to take into account when we study why some plants become weak or die. One reason is lack of water. If the soil is dry, it causes the leaves to wilt, and this may cause the plant to die. On the other hand, too much water may result in the leaves drooping, or becoming yellow. While plants need sunshine, if it is too strong, the soil may be baked and the roots killed. However, if there is no light, the leaves will become pale and the stems thin. Then the plant may die.

  • Lack of water right arrow dryness in the soil right arrow leaves to wilt right arrow death of plant.
  • Too much water right arrow leaves droop or become yellow right arrow plant dies.
  • Too strong sun right arrow baked soil right arrow roots killed.
  • Lack of light right arrow pale leaves & thin stems right arrow plant dies.

Exercise

Try this exercise: Exercise 1

Language

This relationship can be expressed in many ways:

1. Simply

Emphasising cause.

The death rate from cancer is increasing

because
owing to the fact that

people are smoking more.

Emphasising effect.

As
Because
Since

people are smoking more,

the death rate from cancer is increasing.

 

People are smoking more.

Therefore,
So,
Thus,
Hence,
Consequently,
Because of this,
For this reason,
As a consequence,
As a result,

the death rate from cancer is increasing.

People are smoking more,

as a result of which
as a consequence of which
with the result that

2. With some grammatical changes.

Emphasing cause.

The fact that

the death rate from cancer is increasing 

is due to
may be due to

people smoking more.

 

The
One

reason for
cause of

the death rate from cancer increasing

is that
could be that

people are smoking more.

 

An increase in the death rate from cancer

is
may be

one effect of
one result of
one consequence of
caused by
due to
because of

people smoking more.

results from
arises from

Emphasing effect.

Owing to

people smoking more,

the death rate from cancer is increasing.

 

One
The

effect of
result of
consequence of

people smoking more

is that

the death rate from cancer is increasing.

is to

increase the death rate from cancer.

 

People smoking more

results in
leads to
produces
causes
is the cause of
gives rise to
brings about

an increase in the death rate from cancer.

 

People smoke more,

(so)
(thus)
(thereby)

resulting in
leading to
producing
causing
giving rise to
bringing about

an increase in the death rate from cancer.

 

If

people smoke more

the death rate from cancer will increase.

Exercise

Try this exercise: Exercise 2