Due to and Because of are the two phrases tested against each other quite frequently in the Sentence Correction section of the Verbal portion of the GMAT. In day-to-day written and conversational English, these two terms are used interchangeably. But in GMAT SC, the two phrases have very specific usages and are NOT used interchangeably. Hence, it is imperative to know about their specific usages.
This phrase is used to modify the nouns. In other words, due to is used to present the reason for a noun.
Simple Example 1: The traffic jam was due to a terrible accident at the intersection.
In the above-mentioned sentence, the phrase due to has been used to present the reason for the noun traffic jam. The reason for traffic jam, grammatically a noun entity, is a terrible accident. Hence, usage of due to correct in this sentence.
Official Sentence 1: Unlike the premiums for auto insurance, the premiums for personal property coverage are not affected by the frequency of claims, but if the insurance company is able to prove excessive loss due to owner negligence, it may decline to renew the policy. (OG VR 2020#312, SC11934)
Although the usage of due to is not tested in the above-mentioned correct official sentence, it is a good example to understand the usage of due to in GMAT SC. So, let’s begin from the beginning – the meaning analysis of the sentence.
The sentence presents a contrast between the premiums for auto insurance and those for personal coverage. The two types of premiums are different because the latter is not influenced by the frequency of claims. However, if the insurance company can prove that negligence by owner led to huge loss, the insurance company may refuse to renew the policy.
In this sentence, use of due to is correct because it has been used to present the reason for the noun excessive loss. Per this sentence, what causes excessive loss (a noun entity)? Owner negligence. Hence, use of due to is correct in this sentence.
This phrase is used to modify the actions. In other words, because of is used to present the reason for an action.
Simple Example 2: The traffic jam happened because of a terrible accident at the intersection.
In the above-mentioned sentence, the phrase because of has been used to present the reason for the action happened. The reason why the traffic jam took place is that there was a terrible accident. Hence, usage of because of is correct in this sentence.
Official Sentence 2: Because of the erratic pattern of sales increases this year, retailers and analysts hesitate to predict five-year trends in retail sales during the months that have historically been the most profitable. (OG VR 2020#248, SC71061.01)
Let’s first understand the meaning of this correct official sentence. The sentence says retailers and analysts do not predict 5-year trends in retail sales during a particular span of time. The reason for this action (hesitate to predict) is the inconsistent way of rise in sales this year.
Since this sentence presents the reason for an action as mentioned above, the use of because of is correct in this sentence.
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Official Sentence 3: Due to poaching and increased cultivation in their native habitats, researchers have determined that there are fewer than 100 Arabian leopards left in the wild, and thus the leopards are many times as rare as China’s giant pandas. (OG VR 2020#243, SC99250.01)
Choice A: Due to poaching and increased cultivation in their native habitats, researchers have determined that there are fewer than 100 Arabian leopards left in the wild, and thus the leopards are many times as rare as
Choice E: Researchers have determined that, because of poaching and increased cultivation in their native habitats, there are fewer than 100 Arabian leopards left in the wild, and thus the leopards are many times more rare than
If we analyze the above-mentioned two answer choices for the correct usage of due to Vs. because of, we can very easily reject Choice A for the incorrect usage of due to for presenting the reason for the action – have determined. Choice E correctly uses the phrase because of to do so.
What are the Key Take-Away Messages | Due to vs because of
- Use ‘due to’ only to modify nouns.
- Usage of ‘due to’ is correct, if the sentence makes sense when ‘due to’ is replaced with ’caused by’.
- Use ‘because of’ to modify verbs.
- ‘Due to’ & ‘because of’ are not interchangeable.
Q: Can ‘due to’ and ‘because of’ be used interchangeably?
A: No. ‘due to’ is used to modify nouns only. ‘Because of’ is used to modify verbs. Thus, these two expressions cannot be used interchangeably.
In simple example sentence 1, the verb before due to is is while in simple example sentence 2, because of is preceded by the verb happened. Please note that ‘is’ presents the state of the subject, and happened denotes an action. Paying attention to the verb in the clause these phrases associate with can help determine whether the sentence must use due to or because of.
|Due to||Presents reason for a noun||The traffic jam was due to a terrible accident at the intersection.|
|Because of||Presents reason for an action||The traffic jam happened because of a terrible accident at the intersection.|
To learn the usage of other idioms covered in the e-GMAT SC course, click here.