What is a cause and effect essay?
Cause and effect essays are concerned with why things happen (causes) and what happens as a result (effects). Cause and effect is a common method of organizing and discussing ideas.
Follow these steps when writing a cause and effect essay
- Distinguish between cause and effect. To determine causes, ask, "Why did this happen?" To identify effects, ask, "What happened because of this?" The following is an example of one cause producing one effect:
- You are out of gas.
- Your car won't start.
- liked business in high school
- salaries in the field are high
- have an aunt who is an accountant
- am good with numbers
- choose to major in accounting
- reduce work hours
- less income
- employer is irritated
- more time to study
- more time for family and friends
Sometimes, many causes contribute to a single effect or many effects may result from a single cause. (Your instructor will specify which cause/effect method to use.) The following are examples:
However, most situations are more complicated. The following is an example of a chain reaction:
Thinking about friend…forgot to buy gas…car wouldn't start…missed math exam…failed math course.
- Develop your thesis statement. State clearly whether you are discussing causes, effects, or both. Introduce your main idea, using the terms "cause" and/or "effect."
- Find and organize supporting details. Back up your thesis with relevant and sufficient details that are organized. You can organize details in the following ways:
- Chronological. Details are arranged in the order in which the events occurred.
- Order of importance. Details are arranged from least to most important or vice versa.
- Categorical. Details are arranged by dividing the topic into parts or categories.
- Use appropriate transitions. To blend details smoothly in cause and effect essays, use the transitional words and phrases listed below.
- For causes
- because, due to, on cause is, another is, since, for, first, second
- For Effects
- consequently, as a result, thus, resulted in, one result is, another is, therefore
When writing your essay, keep the following suggestions in mind:
- Remember your purpose. Decide if your are writing to inform or persuade.
- Focus on immediate and direct causes (or effects.) Limit yourself to causes that are close in time and related, as opposed to remote and indirect causes, which occur later and are related indirectly.
- Strengthen your essay by using supporting evidence. Define terms, offer facts and statistics, or provide examples, anecdotes, or personal observations that support your ideas.
- Qualify or limit your statements about cause and effect. Unless there is clear evidence that one event is related to another, qualify your statements with phrases such as "It appears that the cause was" or "It seems likely" or "The evidence may indicate" or "Available evidence suggests."
To evaluate the effectiveness of a cause and effect essay, ask the following questions:
What are the causes? What are the effects? Which should be emphasized? Are there single or multiple causes? Single or multiple effects? Is a chain reaction involved?
Choosing the essay topic for cause and effect essay type is not difficult, here are some sample essay topics:
- Effects of Pollution
- The Changes in the Ocean
- The Civil Rights Movement and the Effects
Please, make sure you choose the essay topic that is really important for you. Choosing the correct essay topic makes your cause and effect essay more interesting and successful.
Cause and Effect TopicsWhen selecting your topic for this essay, you should find an event, trend, or phenomenon that has a fairly obvious cause and effect. You can pick very big topics like World War II and attribute a cause and effect to it by not exploring every possible reason why it started and what its effects were. Just pick a few causes and effects that you can attribute to it and make some notes before you start writing.
For example, let’s say that you’ve chosen the October Revolution of 1917 as your topic. What are some key elements to this event? There are MANY but let’s pick war, living conditions, and political repression. Now let’s break these down further:
War: The Russian Empire had already killed off many of its young soldiers in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and in the early years of World War I. The Provisional Government that came after the monarchy in February 1917 didn’t do much better in WWI. This resulted in people being angry about losing so many soldiers and resources for the war effort.
Living Conditions: Life for both the peasants in the countryside and the workers in the city was abysmal. This went hand in hand with an elite who used up many of the country’s wealth for their own personal pleasure. This resulted in people being angry for having so little while others had so much.
Political Repression: There was no political freedom in the Russian Empire. There was no “real” constitution, parliament, or elections that weren’t controlled by either the monarchy or later by the Provisional Government. Because of political repression, anyone who disagreed with the status quo was subjected to arrest, exile, or execution. People wanted more freedoms like other citizens had in Western Europe.
Other Cause and Effect Essay Topics
- How divorce effects children
- Why some friendships end
- The effect of the American Civil War on race relations in the US
- The effect of birth control on the Sexual Revolution
- The effects of poverty on people’s psychology
- Why first-year college roommates rarely get along
- The positive effects of a healthy lifestyle
- Why some romantic partners cheat
- How second-wave feminism effected gender relations between men and women
- The effects of drugs on prenatal development
How to Write a Cause and Effect EssayNow that you have selected a suitable topic, you can begin to write your cause and effect essay.
Step 1: You need to explain the effects by making appropriate links to the causes. This is where your breakdown of the topic will help you.
Step 2: Be sure to only focus on a few points. Too many will overcomplicate everything for your reader.
Step 3: Organize your essay
- Begin with your thesis statement. It should state the event, phenomenon, or trend that you want to explore in your essay.
- All of the other paragraphs should begin with topic sentences that explore one of the cause and effect aspects. In the October 1917 example, you discuss the war's cause and effects in one paragraph.
- End your essay by drawing your discussion together neatly.
Cause and Effect Essay ExamplesThe causes and effects of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia are enough to fill volumes upon volumes of text. However, I will explore three main causes of this revolution. These were namely war, terrible living conditions, and political repression. While there were other factors involved, these three basic causes created ripple effects that left almost no one in the former Russian Empire untouched and a country ripe for further revolution…
Many people wonder what caused the writer Fyodor Dostoevsky to transform from a potential revolutionary to a fervent skeptic of revolution and an ardent Russian Orthodox Christian. Pivotal moments in the writer’s life played a role in his transformation. This included the murder of his father by his peasants, his near execution that was only stopped on the tsar’s orders, his imprisonment and exile in Omsk, and his battle with poverty. Due to all of these factors, Dostoevsky was changed not only as a person, but as a writer as well…
- Proper formatting