Cause, reason, purpose and result

Cause and reason

You probably know how to use words like because, since and as to refer to the cause of

or reason for something. Here are some other ways of connecting clauses to express

causes and reasons. Note how verbs and nouns can do the same job as conjunctions.

Look at the picture of an accident, on the right. Here are several ways of talking about it.

Owing to the icy conditions, the two lorries collided.

The collision was due to the icy conditions.

The collision was caused by ice on the road.

The cause of the collision was ice on the road.

Here are some other ‘cause’ words and typical contexts they are used in.

The rise in prices sparked off a lot of political protest, [often used for very strong, perhaps violent, reactions to events]

The President’s statement gave rise to / provoked / generated a lot of criticism, [slightly less strong than spark off]

The new law has brought about / led to great changes in education, [often used for political/social change]

This problem stems from the inflation of recent years, [explaining the direct origins of events and states]

The court-case arose out of allegations made in a newspaper, [the allegations started the process that led to the court-case]

Reasons for and purposes of doing things

Her reason for not going with us was that she had no money, or The reason she didn’t go with us was that… [less formal]

I wonder what his ipotives were in sending that letter? [purpose]

I wonder what prompted liim to send that letter? [reason/cause]

She wrote to the press with the aim of exposing the scandal, [purpose]

I’ve invited you here with a view to resolving our differences, [sounds a bit more indirect than with the aim of]

He refused to answer on the grounds that his lawyer wasn’t there, [reason]

The purpose of her visit was to inspect the equipment.


He did no work. As a result / As a consequence / Consequently, he failed his exams.

The result/consequence of all these changes is that no-one is happy any more. [The examples with consequence/consequently sound more formal than result]

His remarks resulted in everyone getting angry, [as a verb + in]

The events had an outcome that no-one could have predicted, [result of a process or events, or of meetings, discussions, etc.]

The upshot of all these problems was that we had to start again, [less formal than outcome]

When the election results were announced, chaos ensued, [formal]