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Humanities LibreTexts

12.4: Writing a Cause-and-Effect Essay

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  • Choose an event or condition that you think has an interesting cause-and-effect relationship. Introduce your topic in an engaging way. End your introduction with a thesis that states the main cause, the main effect, or both.

    Organize your essay by starting with either the cause-then-effect structure or the effect-then-cause structure. Within each section, you should clearly explain and support the causes and effects using a full range of evidence. If you are writing about multiple causes or multiple effects, you may choose to sequence either in terms of order of importance. In other words, order the causes from least to most important (or vice versa), or order the effects from least important to most important (or vice versa).

    Use the phrases of causation when trying to forge connections between various events or conditions. This will help organize your ideas and orient the reader. End your essay with a conclusion that summarizes your main points and reinforces your thesis.

    key takeaways

    • The purpose of the cause-and-effect essay is to determine how various phenomena are related.
    • The thesis states what the writer sees as the main cause, main effect, or various causes and effects of a condition or event.
    • The cause-and-effect essay can be organized in one of these two primary ways:
    1. Start with the cause and then discuss the effect.
    2. Start with the effect and then discuss the cause.
    • Strong evidence is particularly important in the cause-and-effect essay due to the complexity of determining connections between phenomena.
    • Phrases of causation are helpful in signaling links between various elements in the essay

    Examples of Essays

    • “Blood Loss,” by Christopher Beam
    • “Roller Coasters: Feeling Loopy,” by Bonnie Berkowitz and Laura Stanton
    • “1 in 7 Parents: Pay to Play Sidelines Some Kids,” by Robin Erb
    • “Why Everyone Should Read Harry Potter,” by Bret Stetka
    • “A New Kind of Social Anxiety in the Classroom,” by Alexandra Ossola
    • “Why It’s Hard to Be a Poor Boy With Richer Neighbors,” by Dana Goldstein
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