Chapter 9-2: The Cause & Effect Essay

Writing > Expository Essays > Cause Effect


In a cause and effect essay, the writer studies the reasons for an event, the results of the event, or both.

Example topics:

  • Discuss the reasons people decide to have children (cause essay)

  • Examine the consequences of Brexit (effect essay)

  • Analyze the causes and effects of drug addiction (cause and effect essay)

If you push the dominos, the egg will probably break. / The egg was broken because someone pushed the dominos.


We can use the five-paragraph approach for any type of cause and effect essay:

An introductory paragraph

The introduction should include a hook, which opens the essay in an engaging way. A few sentences of connecting information will lead to the thesis statement. The thesis statement will state whether you're focusing on effects, causes, or both.

Three evidentiary body paragraphs

Your three body paragraphs and their content will vary based on whether you're discussing only cause or effect, or cause and effect. See below for a general guideline.

A conclusion

Your conclusion will restate your thesis based on the points you made in the body of the essay. Then you can close your essay with an opinion, suggestion, or prediction.

Cause or Effect

  1. Introduction

  2. Cause/Effect 1 with supporting evidence and explanation

  3. Cause/Effect 2 with supporting evidence and explanation

  4. Cause/Effect 3 with supporting evidence and explanation

  5. Conclusion

Cause and Effect

This structure has a bit more flexibility, depending on what causes and effects you choose to discuss, but here is one guideline:

  1. Introduction

  2. Cause 1 and Effect of Cause 1

  3. Cause 2 and Effect of Cause 2

  4. Cause 3 and Effect of Cause 3

  5. Conclusion

Useful Words

  • As a consequence

  • As a result

  • For this reason

  • Moreover

  • For example

  • For instance

  • In conclusion

  • because

  • furthermore

  • in addition to

  • on account of

  • since

  • consequently

  • therefore

  • thus

  • so

  • due to

Useful Phrases

  • (X) causes / produces (Y)

  • (X) leads to / gives rise to / brings about / results in (Y)

  • This means that...

  • One consequence of this is...

Affect vs. effect

These two words can be easy to confuse. Here's the difference:



have an effect on; make a difference to.

"Climate change affects animal habitats."



a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.

"the effects of video games"

Essay Outline

This outline of a cause and effect essay should help you with the content of your essay.

Your Name

Teacher’s Name

Course Title

Due Date

Title: Choose something informative that will let readers know if you're studying causes, effects, or both

Your introduction paragraph will open with a hook to engage the reader. Some connecting information should follow. Lastly, you should have your thesis statement. The thesis statement will summarize what you're studying: causes, effects, or both.

Cause/Effect 1: In this paragraph, address the first cause or effect. A good structure is to begin with evidence or supporting information and end with the cause or effect.

Cause/Effect 2: Examine the second cause or effect. It is good to have more than one point of evidence or information to support each cause or effect.

Cause/Effect 3: The third paragraph will have the third and final cause or effect. Remember to use the useful words and phrases from above to connect ideas.

Summarize your conclusions with your ending paragraph. Restate your thesis paragraph and your three points. Then end the essay with a suggestion, opinion, or prediction.

Sample Essay

NOTE: this is a sample essay designed to fit on one page. The number of words that you are required to write, the number of ideas that you are required to express, and the formatting rules you are required to follow may be different for your own assignment. Refer to your assignment instructions for this information.


The MLA format for essays has the following rules:

  • Font: 12pt Times New Roman

  • Margins: One-inch margins in all sides

  • Heading: Left-justified at the beginning of the essay and includes:

    • Your name

    • Teacher's name

    • Course title

    • Due date

  • Paragraphs: Double spaced with indentation on first line

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