How to Write and Organize a Cause and Effect Essay

Please note: This material is Copyright 2012 Secondary Solutions.  No part of this article/post may be reproduced, transmitted, translated or stored, in any form, including digitally or electronically, without the express written permission of Secondary Solutions.

Writing Cause/Effect Essays

Cause and Effect essays explore why things happen (causes) and what happens as a result (effects). These essays give reasons and explanations for behaviors, events, or circumstances. It is important that your presentation is factual and believable, and that in your thesis statement you explain whether you will be discussing causes, effects, or sometimes both.

Key Prompt Words: identify, show, give reasons, show the causes of, give the effects of, etc.

Purpose

  • Present the causes or the effects of the issue—or rarely, both causes and effects

Important Aspects

  • Know your Purpose
    • It is important to distinguish between causes and effects when writing a cause or effect paper. To determine the effects, ask “What happened?”  To determine the causes, ask yourself “Why did this happen?”
  • Avoid first person pronouns “I,” “me,” and “my”
  • DO NOT SAY: “I believe that the gun control issue is way out of hand.”
  • SAY: “Lack of gun control has caused thousands of deaths in the United States alone.”

 

Take a look at the following simple scenario:

Because you didn’t study, you failed your final exam.

Ask yourself:  What happened?  Why did this happen?

What happened? (EFFECT) – you failed your final exam

Why did this happen? (CAUSE) – because you didn’t study

Sometimes many effects can result from a single cause, or many causes contribute to a single effect.  These can often be a chain reaction.

 

Take a look at the following chain-reaction scenario (with an emphasis on effects):

Because you did not study, you failed the final exam, failed your Government class, were short credits, and were not able to graduate with the rest of your class.

What happened? (EFFECTS) – you failed your final exam, failed your Government class, were short credits, were not able to graduate with the rest of your class

Why did this happen? (CAUSE) – because you didn’t study

The chain reaction can work the other way, giving several causes to one effect.

 

Take a look at the following scenario (with an emphasis on causes):

Because you decided to go out on a school night, locked your keys in the car, had to call a tow truck, got home after 3:00am and were too tired to study, you failed your final exam.

What happened? (EFFECT) – you failed your final exam

Why did this happen? (CAUSES) – because you decided to go out on a school night, locked your keys in the car, had to call a tow truck, got home after 3:00am, and were too tired to study

To set up a Cause/Effect Essay, consider the following outlines:

  1. Introduction
  2. Effect #1 (with reasons and explanations)
  3. Effect #2 (with reasons and explanations)
  4. Effect #3 (with reasons and explanations)
  5. Conclusion
  1. Introduction
  2. Cause #1 (with reasons and explanations)
  3. Cause #2 (with reasons and explanations)
  4. Cause #3 (with reasons and explanations)
  5. Conclusion


 

Organizing Cause/Effect Essays

Cause/Effect Essays:

  1. Explore the reasons, outcomes, or both, of a subject
  2. Give examples, quotes, or arguments to support causes/effects
  3. Stick with either causes or effects (sometimes, both) throughout

Goal of Cause/Effect Writing:

To introduce to your reader the causes or effects (reasons, results, or explanations) for behaviors, events, or circumstances.

Most Important Aspects of Cause/Effect Writing:

Relationship

  • Must clearly state the connection and relationship of causes or effects
  • Must be able to decide between the causes or effects that are major, or contributing (often, immediate) factors, and those that are minor, or supporting (often, residual) factors
  • Must be strongly supported with logical reasoning

Purpose

  • Decide whether you are trying to inform or persuade your audience.Choose appropriate wording to reflect your purpose.

Example of a Cause and Effect Essay Prompt:

More and more studies are supporting the idea that teens do not get nearly enough sleep.  Researchers feel that lack of sleep can cause major problems for teens, both immediate and long-term.  In a well–written essay, explore either the causes of lack of sleep for teens, or the effects, both immediate and long-term, that poor sleep habits have on teens today.

When writing a Cause/Effect Essay, be sure to use bridges to help your transition from cause to cause or effect to effect.  The following are some examples of good cause/effect transition words:

accordingly
as a result of
because
because of
brought about
caused by
consequently
due to
for the reason
if…then
in effect
is responsible for
leads to
otherwise
since
so
therefore
thus
when
whenever

Cause/Effect Thesis:

Remember that for a Cause/Effect paper, you are either explaining the causes or the effects of something, and in rare cases, both.  Your thesis statement must state 1) whether you are looking at the causes or the effects, and 2) your position on the causes or the effects.

For Example:

Topic: Gun control in the United States

Cause/Effect Thesis: Lack of gun control has caused thousands of deaths in the United States alone.

Let’s test this thesis. 1) Is it an opinion or position, and 2) Is the topic mentioned?

  1. Yes; it is an opinion that gun control is to blame for thousands of deaths in the United States.  Some people would disagree, stating that the problem is not gun control, but irresponsible people who get their hands on guns who are the problem.
  2. Yes; the topic of gun control in the United States specifically is mentioned.

Of course, you know that this thesis is just a simple thesis.  If we want to write a “better” thesis statement, our thesis statement might look something like this:

Lax gun control laws, irresponsible gun owners, and an underground black market have caused thousands of gun-related deaths in the United States alone.

Please note: This material is Copyright 2012 Secondary Solutions.  No part of this article/post may be reproduced, transmitted, translated or stored, in any form, including digitally or electronically, without the express written permission of Secondary Solutions.

Celebrate National Day on Writing with 20% off TODAY only!

20% off all our writing-related products TODAY, October 20, 2011 ONLY in
honor of National Day on Writing!

Includes 20% off

…and many more! To browse through our TPT store, CLICK HERE!

For more about the National Day on Writing, visit NCTE‘s website.

Thanks for stopping by!
– Kristen Bowers  (aka Secondary Solutions)
Secondary Solutions TPT Store
Secondary Solutions Blog
Facebook page
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sec_solutions
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sec_solutions

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...