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‘factor’ vs ‘reason’

Quick Test:

Look at these sentences which basically all mean the same thing – what’s the difference between them grammatically?
  • Stress is a major factor in many illnesses.
  • Stress is the main cause of many illnesses.
  • The primary reason for many illnesses is stress.
  • Many illnesses are mainly due to stress.
  • Many illnesses are caused by stress.
Check your answer here

Although there are slight differences in the way ‘factor’, ’cause’ and ‘reason’ are used, a simple way to differentiate between them is just the preposition is different!

  • Stress is a major factor in many illnesses.
  • Stress is the main cause of many illnesses.
  • The primary reason for many illnesses is stress.
  • Many illnesses are mainly due to stress.

  • Many illnesses are caused by stress [this is the Passive Verb form of ’cause’ – all the other examples are nouns]

‘A key factor in deciding whether to study online or not is the nature of the course itself’.

FACTOR

A factor is something which causes or influences an outcome.

  • The weather was a contributing factor in the accident.
  • Stress is a major contributing factor in many illnesses.
  • Human influence is an important factor in climate change.
  • The vaccination program is a major factor in the improvement of health standards.
  • A key factor in a company’s success is knowing its customers.
  • Consumer confidence in the quality of the brand is the most important factor in the successful launch of a new product.
  • Accessibility and ease-of-use are crucial factors in deciding which course to take.
  • The rise in crime is mainly due to social and economic factors.
  • When you’re choosing a course, there are many factors to take into account.
  • The style, condition, size and age of the property are key factors to consider when buying a house.
  • Price is usually the deciding/determining factor when buying a house.
  • The main factors that determine the salary are the experience and qualifications of the candidate.

Verb form: ‘to factor in’

 ‘When calculating the cost of university, you need to factor in travel expenses etc’.

[Also useful] ‘Push and pull factors’ In migration, push factors are those that encourage a population to leave its home, pull factors are those that draw a population to another area or place.

REASON

A reason is an explanation for an outcome.

  • One reason why homelessness is increasing could be changes to the welfare system.
  • People are sleeping on the streets because their benefits have been cut.
  • Another reason for the growth in the number of homeless people is unemployment.
  • The primary/main reason for homelessness is the breakdown of the family unit.

CAUSE

A cause is something that makes something happen.

  • The cause of the accident is not clear.
  • Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for American women in their 40s.
  • A primary/ leading/ underlying/ major cause of homelessness is the benefit system.

 ’cause’ (uncountable noun)

e.g. There is no cause for alarm.

The present situation gives little cause for optimism.

‘due to’

Be careful with the grammar of ‘due to’.

Can you correct this sentence?

  • *The match was cancelled due to it was raining.

Due to + noun [not S-V-O)

  • The match was cancelled due to the snow/rain/a change in the weather/heavy rain/bad weather/Covid 
  • The match was cancelled due to the fact that it was raining.
  • The match was cancelled due to there being a lot of rain.

Practice: 

I didn’t go to the party 

  • because I was sick.
  • due to my sickness/my bad health. [noun]
  • due to my being sick.
  • due to the fact that I was sick. 

As you can see from the sentences above, ‘due to’ is a formal way of saying ‘because’.

 

 

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