Reading Comprehension Cause and Effect Help
Introduction to Cause and Effect
For every action," famous scientist Sir Isaac Newton said, "there is an equal and opposite reaction." Every action results in another action (a reaction); or, for every action, there is an effect caused by that action. Likewise, each action is caused by a previous action. In other words, each action has a cause—something that made it happen—and each action has an effect—something it makes happen.
- Cause: a person or thing that makes something happen or produces an effect
- Effect: a change produced by an action or cause
Much of what you read is an attempt to explain either the cause of some action or its effect. For example, an author might try to explain the causes of World War I or the effect of underwater nuclear testing; the reason behind a change in policy at work; or the effect a new computer system will have on office procedure. Let's take a look at how writers explaining cause or effect might organize their ideas.
Distinguishing Cause from Effect
A passage that examines cause generally answers the question why something took place: Why was the company restructured? Who or what made this take place? A passage that examines effect generally answers the question what happened after something took place: What happened as a result of the restructuring? How did it affect the company?
Cause and Effect Practice and Answers
To help you distinguish between cause and effect, carefully read following the sentences. You'll see that cause and effect work together; you can't have one without the other. That's why it's very important to be able to distinguish between the two. See if you can determine both the cause and the effect in each of the following sentences:
- Example: Robin got demoted when she talked back to the boss.
- Cause: Robin talked back to the boss.
- Effect: Robin got demoted.
- Inflation has caused us to raise our prices.
- Since we hired Joan, the office has been running smoothly.
- He realized that his car had stopped not because it needed repair but because it ran out of gas.
- The company's budget crisis was created by overspending.
- As a result of our new marketing program, sales have doubled.
- Cause: Inflation
- Cause: We hired Joan.
- Cause: The car ran out of gas.
- Cause: Overspending
- Cause: The new marketing program
Effect: We had to raise our prices.
Effect: Our office has been running smoothly.
Effect: The car stopped.
Effect: Budget crisis
Effect: Sales have doubled.
If you are having trouble connecting causes and effects, look for significant events or actions and reword the situations in the form of a question. The phrase "because of" is helpful in generating potential causes, and the phrase "resulted in" can be used to formulate questions leading to effects.
- Why did Jane lose her job?
- Jane lost her job "because of" [cause]
- What happened when Jane was constantly late?
- Jane's constant lateness "resulted in" [effect]
Here is a partial list of words and phrases that indicate when a cause or efffect is being examined.
Words Indicating Cause
because (of) created (by) since caused (by)
Words Indicating Effect
since therefore hence consequently so as a result
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