Knowing and understanding this kind of essay will help you in adjusting your ability to express your ideas that are in the form of cause and affect relationship. In an academic essay, this essay has specific form and function. The form is a cause-effect essay. Meanwhile, the function is to express your ideas academically to your readers with two things or more that you think they have a relationship of cause and affect.
The Cause-Effect Essay
Question 1: What is cause-effect essay?
Before knowing the definition of cause-effect essay, it is a necessary for you to understand what the word of ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ means. According to Hornby, ‘cause’ is a person or thing that makes something happen (p. 177), meanwhile, ‘effect’ means a change produced by an action or a cause and a result or an outcome.
Therefore, the meaning of ‘cause-affect’ essay is an essay that presents the ideas of how a cause can make an effect, or the relationship between a cause and an effect.
Question 2: What are the characteristics of cause-effect essay?
According to Anderson (2001: 237), there are some characteristics of a cause-effect essay:
While a process pattern of development explains how, cause/effect development explores why. Cause is a writing strategy concerned with why something happens, effect focuses on results or consequences.
Too much rain leads to flooding
Flooding leads to destruction of crops
Loss of crops leads to shortage of products
Shortage of products leads to rise in market price
Obviously, the characters are:
- The writer presents a reasonable thesis connected to logical cause/effect development. The subject is an event, occurence, or phenomenon, and the writer focuses on cause, effect, or both.
- The writer uses detail to develop one or more causes or affects connected with an event or occurrence; the writer may focus on causes, on effects, or on a combination of both.
- The cause/effect development has a particular structure.
Structure of cause/effect essay:
Question 3: What should we do in writing a cause-effect essay?
There are ways that we can follow in writing a cause-effect essay.
They are, as Anderson states (2001: 240-244):
- Determine Purpose and Audience
- Focus Your Subject
- Choose the Structure
- Connect with cue words
- Use Specific Details
- Avoid Possible Pitfalls:
– Post Hoc Fallacy
Meanwhile, you have to consider the words that you use to indicate the cause/effect relationship.
In Bailey (2004: 53), you can use ‘passives’ and ‘conjunctions’ to indicate the cause-effect.
In terms of the ‘passives’, you can use the passive forms by adding to be+Verb-3+by.
- The traffic jam is caused by the bad system of transportation.
- The low score in Writing II is caused by laziness in studying.
In conjunctions type, you can use the following things.
- Because of
- Owing to
- Due to
- Which is why
Please try to make a sentence by using the above conjunctions!
Additionally, as Blass points out (1968: 134-137),
“An effective way of making a point in an academic essay is to show causal relationships. In other words, the writer shows the cause or effect or both of a particular action or idea. A causal relationship can be described in a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire essay”.
A simple cause-effect relationship is when one action or idea leads to another:
a –> b
The causal chain for a cause-effect essay:
Thesis statement: a –> f
- a –> b –> c
- d –> e –> f
The idea of writing a cause-effect essay is to present a causal relationship between two or more than two things in the essay. This essay has its own format and structure. Therefore, paying attention to the structure of the ideas, as well as how you use the conjunctions and types of sentences are important in this cause-effect essay.
- Anderson, Marilyn. Keys to Successful Writing – Unlocking the Writer Within. New York; Longman, 2001, pp. 237-243.
- Bailey, Stephen. Academic Writing: A Practical Guide for Students. London and New York; Routledge Falmer, 2004, p. 53
- Blass, Laurie. Mosaic II: A Content-based Writing Book. New York; Random House, 1968, pp. 134-137.
- Hornby, A S. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English. International Student edition. Oxford; Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 177 & p. 369.
Example of a Cause-Effect Essay
The following text has been taken from Anderson’s book, page 239-240.
The author is Swarupa Reddy.
Swarupa Reddy reports that the strategies she learned in her first college writing class helped her “build the foundation to complete freshman composition and other transfer-level English courses.” In addition to raising a family, Swarupa is currently taking courses to prepare for her transfer to a four-year university. She intends to pursue a career in one of health professions.
TV AS A CULPRIT
Our minds are rotting away and we might not know it. This is due to a destructive invention, a culprit known as television. Though television has kept families in their homes with countless hours of entertainment, it has also ended up destroying family ritual, affecting academic performance, and promoting sex and violence.
One effect of television in our current time is the destruction of family ritual. Once upon a time, so we have been told, families talked with each other. They actually gathered together and shared ideas, interests, and experiences. Since television, this apparently does not occur in most families. Family meals have taken a definite downward toll since the rise of television. At one time families would actually gather around the table for a meal and some family discussion. This was the place and time that families would work out a lot of problems related to school, sports, work, and relations with the opposite sex. Television has changed this, however, with the family members all staring at the tube rather than looking each other, and listening to television programs rather than talking. No longer is there the shared mealtime ritual of the family.
In addition or possibly as a result of the breakdown of the family ritual, television has also affected the schoolwork and performance of children and teenagers. Statistics released recently reveal that many more elementary, junior high, and high school students watch television than many twenty years ago, and that these children and teens are watching for more extended periods of time than ever before. The results are discouraging to teachers, parents, and school officials. Studies show that those students who watch ten or more than ten or more hours of television per week—an increasing number—receive lower grades than their counterparts who do not watch television.
Finally, television actually promotes sex and violence. Programs that contain sex and violence may impress upon a child the wrong messages, whereas an adult may know how to distinguish between what is proper and what is not. In a long term study on the effect of television on young viewers conducted by Stanford University, participants watched certain programs and were then themselves watched through one-way mirrors. The youngsters “acted out” more violently, hitting, throwing and abusing their toys more frequently after watching such programs. In addition, the carefree and casual use of sex on television has influenced many viewers to want to engage in sex, without aknowledging any of the dangers of unsafe sex. Young viewers in both instances “do as T.V. does”, and then they find that actions that work in the television world have different results in the real world.
At the risk of becoming social outcasts for criticizing this accepted American phenomenon, we must start to limit the use of television before this culprit brings about even more destruction to our families, our children, and our way of life.
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