How to Write a Cause and Effect Essay Easily

Certain actions can cause certain reactions. In everyday life you have already used the principles of analysis of causes or effects. For example, you must use them when your tutor asks you why you are late and you have to explain why. In many spheres people use cause and effect analysis: scientists, managers, doctors, detectives, and many other specialists must investigate why things happen as they do. Such analysis helps not only to define why something has occurred, but also to understand the nature of phenomena and how to behave in a particular case.

how to write a cause and effect essay

Both school and university students are often assigned with a cause and effect paper. Students need to master the writing of cause and effect essays to be able to think integrally about causes and effects of certain events, and to make connections between events and analyze the effects.

You can use cause and effect analysis in many situations:

  • College or university: In a psychology course you may be asked to identify the effects of depression.
  • Work: Sales of one position have dropped for the last month and you are asked to find out the causes.
  • Everyday life: When the road is covered with ice, drivers need to be more attentive and reduce speed as they may cause an accident.

Cause and effect analysis involves contemplation on why something has occurred and what consequences it has brought. This kind of essay can be written from several perspectives: analyze only causes, analyze only effects, or describe both causes and effects. But before we proceed to the paragraph writing, let’s define what a cause and effect essay is.

What Is a Cause and Effect Essay

A cause and effect essay is a type of writing that describes the causes or effects (or both) that happen as a result of a certain event. It is about the analysis of connections between conditions, events, or actions in order to better understand it. The approach that will be used during the writing will depend on what perspective the author will concentrate: causes, effects, or both.

There are three kinds of cause and effect essays:

  • 1st essay type explains how a certain event occurred and what consequences it had.
  • 2nd essay type is about causes and describes reasons that caused the particular effect.
  • 3rd essay type is about effects and concentrates on the list of consequences that occurred after the event.

Sometimes you can be confused with the causes or effects of a certain event. So, when you will be writing, find out whether you are stating the real causes and effects. For example, if you got your feet wet on a cold winter day and in a couple of days you got the flu, this is a real cause of the illness.

An example of causes and effects from an event (divorce):

Causes: lack of communication, money issues, constant arguing, abuse, cheating, etc.
Effects: depression of both partners, negative effects on children, divorced mothers are more likely to live in poverty, men remarry more quickly than women.

If your essay contains a cause and effect paragraph, its structure will follow basic essay format. It should begin with a sentence that will state whether this paragraph is about causes or effects. Don’t forget to add supporting sentences to explain the cause or effect.

Steps for Writing a Cause and Effect Essay

Before writing:

Step 1. Check your assignment. Don’t underestimate the importance of reading the assignment. At first glance the assignment may seem clear, but to understand all peculiarities and specifications you need to carefully read the assignment. Underline the deadline and set the date to your phone, and write out the type of paper, required essay format, and other peculiarities that you need to consider while writing.

Step 2. Focus on the topic. Sometimes tutors assign certain cause and effect essay topics, but usually students need to pick the topic for a cause and effect essay on their own. Create a list of possible topics that you want to describe in your cause and effect essay. Choose the most interesting topic and narrow it down so you can present it from your point of view. Conduct a little prewriting exercise to get more ideas about the topic. Choose from three to five possible causes and consider short-term or long-term effects. Make sure that all points refer to the topic. Frequently, causes and effects are interrelated and cannot be described individually.

Step 3. Conduct research. If your topic is complex enough or information that you already know about the topic is insufficient, you need to conduct research. To write a good cause and effect essay, search for additional information in the library, on the internet, or interview someone who knows enough about the topic. Briefly write the most interesting facts and phrases that you will use when crafting your first draft. Write down the questions that need additional information or examples. Also mention the sources that you are going to use in your essay and the stage of writing a works cited list will be much easier.

Step 4. Make an outline. As soon as you gather basic information and you have decided on the topic, you need to create a detailed plan. The key point to a successful essay is having the right structure. You can believe this or not, but the time you spend on creating the outline will save time while writing the paper. A carefully crafted outline will help you concentrate on the main points and to describe all ideas that you need to describe in your essay. There is no need to write full sentences on this step, as you only need to write ideas and structure them in the right order.

Usually, a cause and effect essay outline follows a five paragraph format, but the quantity of body paragraphs may vary. It depends on the topic and how you plan to disclose the topic: in one body paragraph or several paragraphs. Traditionally, this type of essay contains these sections: an introduction, a body containing three paragraphs, and conclusion.

Look at the sample cause and effect essay format:

1. Introduction
1.1. Attention grabber
1.2. Basic information about the topic
1.3. Thesis statement (indicate what the essay will be about: causes, effects, or both)
2. Body paragraph I
2.1. Topic sentence (indicates causes, effects, or both)
2.2. Cause 1/effect 1 (detailed explanation with examples)
3. Body paragraph II
3.1. Topic sentence (indicates causes, effects, or both)
3.2. Cause 2/effect 2 (detailed explanation with examples)
4. Body paragraph III
4.1. Topic sentence (indicates causes, effects, or both)
4.2. Cause 3/effect 3 (detailed explanation with examples)
5. Conclusion
5.1. Restating the thesis statement
5.2. Reminding the reader of the main points
5.3. Concluding sentence

When you will have finished the structure of the essay you will be ready to start writing it paragraph by paragraph.

While writing:

1. Write the introduction. The aim of this section is to give the reader an idea of what you are going to write about and gives basic information if needed. The introduction should include the following:

  • Attention grabber. It is a sentence, quote, anecdote, rhetoric question, or interesting fact that is aimed to catch the reader’s attention at the very beginning of the paper.
  • Basic information. If the topic is complex, you need to add some background information to give a very clear picture about the topic that will be discussed in subsequent paragraphs. This information should help the readers understand the event and be connected with the thesis statement.
  • Thesis statement. The absence of this part will mean that your essay lacks a focus. The thesis statement is usually a sentence or two and should briefly describe the main point of the entire essay. You will be covering this idea through all paragraphs of the essay, so make sure that you have picked the right thesis statement and that it correlates with the outline that you have already created in the previous steps.

2. Write the body paragraph. Start with a topic sentence that will serve as a little introduction to the first cause or effect. Brainstorm about details that will accurately describe the importance of a particular cause or effect. One paragraph should be devoted to one single cause or one single effect.

You can organize the information in the main body differently, depending on your aim. You can use the order of importance or the time of order, depending on the topic. Causes and effects can be organized in chronological order or reverse order. If you have decided to cover both causes and effects, start with a description of causes and present effects later.

When you will be analyzing causes or effects, go beyond answering questions like “What happened?” You also need to explain why and how the event influenced the situation or someone’s life. Make sure that the content you describe in the paragraph correlates with the thesis statement and the overall topic. Don’t forget to use transitional phrases or sentences to move smoothly from one cause to another.

Support all causes and effects that you are describing in your essay with detailed explanations or examples. Some information can be unclear to the readers and good examples will explain possible misunderstandings. Always choose the most interesting or significant examples that suit your points.

3. Write the conclusion. The concluding paragraph should leave the reader with the feeling of completeness and make a final emphasis on the main points. So, how to conclude a cause and effect essay?

  • Restate the thesis statement. In a couple of sentences you should prove that the body paragraphs are closely connected with the thesis statement from the introduction.
  • Remind the reader of the main points. For a cause and effect essay it is advisable to describe the general outline in a couple of sentences. Make sure that these sentences are strong, consistent, and avoid containing any new information. If you are talking about a serious event that influenced the world like global warming or world hunger, you can write a call to action in this sentence and explain your readers what is necessary to do to stop these events.
  • Write a concluding sentence. Like the attention grabber at the beginning, your ending should also be bright and catchy. In a couple of words describe the consequences of your research and the importance of your arguments.
  • Also, take a look at examples all over the internet and consider the structure or vocabulary that writers usually use for cause and effect essay conclusions.

After writing:

Step 1. Create the references page. List the sources that you have used while writing your paper in alphabetical order.

Step 2. Read the first draft. Make sure that you have used appropriate phrases and words that are applied for cause and effect essays. Check whether the content is logically structured and make changes if needed.

Step 3. Proofread the paper. First, check your paper for all kinds of mistakes: grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Leave your writing for an hour or a day and reread it later. Then ask your close friend or someone who is good at academic writing to check your text to receive an impersonal review.

Tips for a Cause and Effect Essay

  1. Use a graphic organizer to boost more ideas for causes or effects.
  2. To find out the causes, ask yourself questions that begin with “why.” Why have the sales dropped down? Why do children from poor families tend to become rich when they grow up?
  3.  To find out effects, answer the questions that begin with “how.” How did this character’s actions influence the lives of other characters? What happens to marine inhabitants when oil falls into the water?
  4. Make a list of possible causes or effects and only then decide which is better to describe in your essay. Always consider multiple causes or effects.
  5. Consider the fact that causes always occur before effects. Make sure that you have described it in your essay in the right order.
  6. Don’t use “so” at the beginning of a sentence. In academic writing it’s inappropriate and belongs to informal writing.
  7. Provide examples or evidence to support your points.
  8. Use words and conjunctives that are usually applied to this kind of essay.
  9. Use graphic charts to organize your writing: feedback loops, visual maps, a fishbone diagram, flow charts, and cause and effect chains.

Cause and Effect Essay Sample

Reading cause and effect essay examples will help you create your own writing. As you read, pay attention to structure, vocabulary, and comments. Underline the thesis statement, topic sentence, and transitions used in the cause and effect sample paragraph. Look for causes and effects in the essay to have a better understanding how the author described what takes place and why it happens.

Click the images to see their full size.

cause and effect essay outline

cause and effect essay format

how to conclude a cause and effect essay

You find more cause and effect essay examples here.

Checklist

  • Have you applied an attention grabber? Does it catch the reader’s attention?
  • Have you provided examples to your causes/effects in order to prove the evidence?
  • Is each paragraph fully developed?
  • Is the order of causes or effects logical?
  • Are your paragraphs enriched with interesting information that motivates the reader to keep reading the text?
  • Did the author create an engaging ending to please the reader?
  • Does you paper persuade the reader with the understanding of order?

what is a cause and effect essay

Words to Use in a Cause and Effect Essay

When writing a cause and effect essay you should make sure that you use phrases that are common in this type of essay. In academic writing it is important to use sentence connectors and connecting phrases to present your ideas in the right way. These words will not only show the cause and result relationship, but also improve your writing style. As soon as you finish your writing make sure that you have used the following phrases:

For this reason…
Example: For this reason office workers can quit their jobs.

Because of…
Example: Because of the listed causes the world population is constantly growing.

Since…
Example: Since many industries have no proper waste management the oceans become more and more polluted.

There is a list of reasons: a, b, c, finally…
Example: There is a list of reasons for water pollution: industrial waste, sewage water, mining activities, chemical pesticides, radioactive waste, etc.

There are four main factors that influence…
Example: There are four main factors that influence blood pressure: blood volume, peripheral resistance, cardiac output, and vessel elasticity.

This leads to…
Example: This cause leads to the high levels of suicide.

One possible cause…
Example: One possible cause of global warming is the overall attitude of humans to nature.

Due to…
Example: The sea level rising is due to increasing global temperature and melting of ice over land.

As a result of…
Example: Demand on product A has fallen as a result of an ineffective marketing campaign.

The first effect…
Example: The first side effect of cocaine use is tremors.

Another effect (result)…
Example: Another effect is an increased possibility of heart failure.

Before was… Now is…
Example: Before the appearance of social networks, people could use chats, forums, and dating sites to communicate with each other. Now we have a wide range of social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.

X consequences have lead to…
These consequences have lead to an increase of pollution levels in the environment.

Consequently/Therefore…
Therefore a divorce is a great mental strain for both partners.

This article was created to help students with writing a cause and effect essay. Our advice is not required to be followed exactingly. We have shown the basic directions, and you are free to apply them in your own way. Keep in mind that writing a cause and effect essay will take time and effort, so make sure that you have left time for research and writing, as a good essay simply can’t be completed in a few hours. We hope our tips and examples will help you write an awesome essay. The last piece of advice is to try hard even if the topic seems hard. You can do it!

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