What Cause And Effect Essay

Cause Essay: This essay explains the different causes and either presents your view or asks the reader to decide at the end. The introduction describes the effects and ends with the question: "What has caused...?" The body paragraphs describe one or more possible causes and the evidence for this. Generally, you will argue strongly for the most important cause in this type of essay. You may argue against some of the other reasonings. The conclusion either restates the cause you think is most important and argues for why the reader should believe it, or it asks the reader to decide.

Speculating About Causes Essay: This essay presents all of the views on the issue. The introduction starts with the effects and asks "What has caused...?" The body then describes three or more different causes with the reasons why some people may believe them. The conclusion either asks the reader to decide or presents your own belief.

Cause Argument Essay: This essay argues for your own idea. The introduction presents effects and ends with the question "What has caused...?" The second paragraph presents the causes that other people argue for (e.g., "some people believe..." or "other people say the cause is..."). The body then presents your belief of the cause and argues why it is the best explanation. The body also refutes the other ideas. Conclude with why the reader should adopt your point of view.

Effect Essay: This essay focuses on the results of a certain cause. The introduction talks about one important event (such as the bombing of the World Trade Center or the introduction of chocolate to the Europeans). Then it asks the question: What are the effects of....? The body of the essay describes the different effects and gives evidence to support them. The conclusion can speculate on effects in the future, or give your personal opinion of the most important effect.

To write a cause and effect essay, you’ll need to determine a scenario in which one action or event caused certain effects to occur.  Then, explain what took place and why! This essay allows us to identify patterns and explain why things turned out the way that they did.

How do I choose a topic and get started?  Try choosing a major event, either in your own life or an event of historical significance.  For example, The Great Depression.

Cause of The Great Depression: stock market crash

How would we elaborate?  We'd discuss the behaviors, carelessness, errors, and even cultural attitudes that led to the crash—explaining why it was devastating.

Effects of the Great Depression: joblessness & poverty

What should we say about the effects?

  • Businesses went under—explain HOW the crash caused this
  • Describe poverty in detail—explain how this could’ve been handled more efficiently or even avoided

Narrowing a Large Topic

In a short essay, it might be difficult to tackle the cause and all of the many effects of a big event like the Great Depression. To narrow a cause and effect topic down to a manageable size, ask yourself… 

  1. What's the main (most important) cause?  Most people attribute it to the stock market crash, so that's a good place to start.   
  2. Can I break the different types of effects down into categories?  Yes!  I'll break my ideas down into categories like:  economic, social, employment, practical, and morale effects.  (example below)
  3. Which category interests me the most? "Practical effects" is the most interesting. I'll narrow the topic of my paper down so that my essay will now be about how the stock market crash affected the practical ways that people lived their lives during the Great Depression.    

Can that category be broken down even further to make the topic more manageable?  I'm actually interested in the ways that the Great Depression affected the farming industry.  I want to talk about the new skills and methods that farmers were forced to learn and implement, as a result of their difficult situation.

Narrowing a Large Topic - Example

Can I break the different types of effects down into categories?  Yes!  I'll break my ideas down into categories like:  economic, social, employment, practical, and morale effects.

Economic

Social

Employment

Practical

Morale

money loses value

poverty increases

jobs eliminated

public resourcefulness increases

low self-esteem

companies lose value

homelessness increases

employers pay lower wages

farming techniques change

men emasculated by job loss

banks lose the public's trust

orphanages fill up

forced to work longer hours

public wastes less, finds creative ways to save

patriotism declines

Example Paper

Student Sample: The Desired Look: Nothing But Bones

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