General Function 8. Explaining causality
A great deal of academic work involves understanding and suggesting solutions to problems. At postgraduate level, particularly in applied fields, students search out problems to study. In fact, one could say that problems are the raw material for a significant proportion of academic activity. However, solutions cannot be suggested unless the problem is fully analysed, and this involves a thorough understanding of the causes. Some of the language that you may find useful for explaining causes and effects is listed below.
Verbs indicating causality
|Lack of protein||may cause|
can lead to
can result in
|Scurvy is a disease||caused by resulting from stemming from||lack of vitamin C.|
|Much of the instability in X||stems from||the economic effects of the war.|
|Low levels of chlorine||can give rise to||high blood pressure.|
Verbs indicating contributive agency
X has contributed to the decline in …
It is now understood that X plays an important role in …
A number of factors play a role in determining the effects of …
The mixing of X and Y exerts a powerful effect upon Z through…
Recent research has revealed that X has a detrimental effect on …
A number of factors are known to affect the volume and type of …
All these factors can impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of …
X is only one of many factors that help to determine the quality of
|Several factors are known to||affect X.|
affect the rate of …
be associated with …
increase the risk of …
be partially responsible for …
play a role in determining X .
Nouns indicating causality
One reason why Xs have declined is that …
A consequence of vitamin A deficiency is blindness.
The causal role of X in Y has been demonstrated by …
The most likely causes of X are poor diet and lack of exercise.
The causes of X have been the subject of intense debate within …
X can have profound health consequences for older people.
Physical activity is an important factor in maintaining fitness.
Many other medications have an influence on cholesterol levels.
Nouns indicating contributive agency
X is a key factor in …
X is a major influence on …
X has a positive effect on …
X has a significant impact on …
X is an important determinant of …
X and Y are important driving factors of Z.
X is generally seen as a factor strongly related to Y.
X is a significant contributory factor to the development of …
This work has revealed several factors that are responsible for …
The study found that loneliness has twice the impact on early death as obesity does.
|X is a/an||risk|
Prepositional phrases indicating causality
|200,000 people per year become deaf||owing to|
as a result of
as a consequence of
|a lack of iodine.|
Sentence connectors indicating causality
|If undernourished children do survive to become adults, they have decreased learning ability.||Therefore,|
Because of this,
As a result (of this),
|when they grow up, it will probably be difficult for them to find work.|
Adverbial elements indicating causality
|Malnutrition leads to illness and a reduced ability to work in adulthood,|
The warm air rises above the surface of the sea,
|perpetuating the poverty cycle.|
creating an area of low pressure.
Expressing a causal relationship tentatively
X may have been an important factor in …
X may have contributed to the increase in …
X may have played a vital role in bringing about …
X may have been caused by an increase in …
In the literature, X has been associated with Y.
A high consumption of X could be associated with infertility.
X in many cases may be associated with certain bacterial infections.
There is some evidence that X may affect Y.
It is not yet clear whether X is made worse by Y.
This suggests a weak link may exist between X and Y.
The use of X may be linked to behaviour problems in …
The human papilloma virus is linked to most cervical cancer.
The findings indicate that regular exercise could improve cognitive function in people at risk of …