Writing a Cause and Effect Essay

Writing a Cause and Effect Essay
Defining Cause and Effect
The easiest way to define cause and effect is “one thing leads to another”. The one thing is the cause that leads to (or results in) “another”, the effect.
Although you can focus on one cause and effect, frequently you’ll find that a single cause generates many effects or that one effect is the result of multiple unrelated causes.
Example: Smoking can cause heart disease, lung cancer, and emphysema or heart disease may be caused by smoking, obesity, and genetics. In addition, smoking can be a contributing factor in an individual with all three diseases or an individual with heart disease may smoke, be obese, and have a family history of heart disease.
In addition, often an effect is brought about by a chain reaction of causes.
Example: Smoking can cause emphysema, which causes a person to slow down, which leads to weight gain, resulting in heart disease.
As you can see, defining some causes and effects gives you a number of possible essay topics. Remembering that an essay is a discussion of a single topic, choose either a cause or effect as your topic and examine the subject “topic” to “primary point” or “topic” to “multiple points”.
The Effect of Cigarettes on Your Heart (one cause to one effect)
Three Deadly Effects of Smoking (three effects to a cause)
Three Major Causes of Heart Disease (three causes to one effect)
When you intend to discuss multiple effects or causes, brainstorm to identify them. Ask questions about each cause or effect you identify.
“Why did this happen?”
“What happened before or after this?”
“What were the results of this?”
Keep asking questions until you are satisfied that you have identified all the causes or effects that are related to your topic. After you have a list, check causes and effects to be sure that your relationships are logical and valid.
Develop Your Cause and Effect Essay
The thesis should clearly state the focus of your cause and effect essay. Alert your reader to the focus of your cause and effect essay by using the words cause and/or effect in your essay thesis. Along with the thesis, your essay introduction should also state the major points your essay will discuss.

The purpose of the cause and effect essay may be either to analyze or inform. Generally, the cause and effect essay is organized either chronologically or in order of importance. Keep causes and effects clearly defined by using keywords for causes such as because of, due to, since, and leads to. For effects use words like consequently, as a result of, thus, resulting in, and, therefore.

Support each point with evidence that clearly shows its relation to your topic. In cases where your facts don’t clearly support your argument, qualify your statements with phrases like, “the evidence suggests”, “it seems likely,” or “the apparent cause” and words like “possibly,” “probably”,“perhaps”, and “maybe”.

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