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What Is a Cause and Effect Essay?

Defining a cause and effect essay

The cause/effect essays draw out the explanations behind a certain occurrence and its results to the general population or specific group of people. One of the advantages of writing a cause and effect essay is that it urges a writer to explore causation and break down the relationship between the reasons and results of a specific issue, behavior, and experience. Cause-and-effect argumentation is a common way of organizing ideas in linear thinking patterns. In other words, cause and effect essays study and show why things occur and what happens as a result using formal logic apparatus.

Key features of a cause and effect essay

There are few things about cause and effect essay’s structure and style that make it easily identifiable. Once you can grasp those key points and reduplicate them, it will become quite painless to write this kind of essay.

Firstly, a cause/effect essay usually starts with an introduction where the author clearly states the main thesis that will be discussed or analyzed.

Secondly, cause and effect papers are organized in a rigid architecture of body paragraphs, which highlights author’s supporting evidence. It can be done using the cause-effect order:

I. Chronological. Details are organized in the order of their occurrence.

II. Order of importance. Details are organized by their importance.

III. Categorical. Details are organized by splitting the topic into parts or categories.

Or, cause-effect character:

I. Single cause leads to multiple effects.

II. Multiple causes lead to a single effect.

III. Chain reaction/domino (one cause leads to another, and so on).

Moreover, writing a cause and effect essay requires authors to use specific vocabulary to blend their arguments smoothly and shape easy-to-follow ideas. So, look for the transitional phrases and words like:

  • available evidence suggests;

  • the evidence indicates;

  • supposedly;

  • probably;

  • due to;

  • since;

  • because;

  • first;

  • second;

  • consequently;

  • resulting in;

  • therefore;

  • as a result, etc.

Lastly, writing tasks that involve cause and effect analysis takes one of two forms: explanation of how a known cause creates specific effects; explanation of how specific effects are created by a cause that was previously unknown (which the author has discovered). This backward type of analysis is referred to as the root cause analysis.

Note: cause and effect essays tend to use logical reasoning. Thus, even well-thought-out essays can be vulnerable to logical fallacies. Beware of popular cherry-picking argumentation, post hoc fallacy, sweeping generalizations, circular logic, mixing causation and correlation, unfalsifiability, and red herrings.


Many cause and effect essays tend to have a strong conclusion — the key arguments reminded to readers, clearly summarized analysis of the issue, and definite actionable points (aka a call to action). However, the endings of some essays are filled with polemic or controversial points to ignite further discussion.

The conclusion can also include author’s own insights into the ideas, solutions, and perspectives on the topic. This final sentence of the paragraph should restate the essay's main point, backed by the evidence found in the body’s paragraphs.

While you write a cause/effect essay’s closing paragraph it is extremely important to cover the overall thesis and revisit all major points, enabling the reader to see the full picture.

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