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 iron in the diet may cause
can lead to
can result in
can give rise to
tiredness and fatigue.
Scurvy is a disease caused by
resulting from
stemming from
lack of vitamin C.
Much of the instability in X stems from
is driven by
is caused by
can be attributed to
the economic effects of the war.
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.
shape X.
predict X.
increase X.
influence X.
determine 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
factor in …
Prepositional phrases indicating causality
200,000 people per year become deaf owing to
because of
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.
Indicating a possible causal relationship

X may be an important factor in …
X may contribute to the increase in …
X may play a vital role in bringing about …
X may have been caused by an increase in …
There is some evidence that X may affect Y.
These findings suggest that X could improve …
It is not yet clear whether X is made worse by Y.

Indicating a possible association

X appears to be linked to Y.
The use of X may be linked to …
In many cases, X may be associated with …
In the literature, X has been associated with Y.
A high consumption of X could be associated with …
This suggests a weak link may exist between X and Y.