Cause/Effect Essays Purpose of this Rhetorical Pattern



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Cause/Effect Essays

Purpose of this Rhetorical Pattern

  • To understand a situation
  • To solve a problem
  • To predict an outcome
  • To entertain
  • To persuade

Brainstorming Technique

Unity in Cause/Effect

  • Focus must be only on one topic and its causes/effects
  • Unity is achieved in a paragraph by deciding on an organizational pattern.
  • Is there a link between the causes or effects? Use that link as the controlling idea (ex. negative effects, positive outcomes, happy reasons.)
  • Create a thesis statement demonstrating the topic, the chosen pattern and the controlling idea.

Organization Patterns

  • Cause Focus - writing only about causes
    • Introduction paragraph (discuss effects as hook)
    • Body Paragraph One: Cause One
    • Body Paragraph Two: Cause Two
    • Body Paragraph Three: Cause Three
    • Conclusion

Organization Patterns

  • Effect Focus – writing only about effects
    • Introduction paragraph (discuss causes as hook)
    • Body Paragraph One: Effect One
    • Body Paragraph Two: Effect Two
    • Body Paragraph Three: Effect Three
    • Conclusion

Organization Patterns

  • Causes and Effects focus: pay attention to transitions between body paragraphs
    • Introduction
    • Paragraph(s) about causes
    • (transition)
    • Paragraph(s) about effects
    • Conclusion

Organization Patterns

  • Chain Reaction - used for closely linked causes/effects.
    • Introduction
    • Cause/Effect Body Paragraphs (one link or many links in each paragraph)
    • Conclusion

Coherence through Signal Words

  • See handout on Signal Words
    • Note the difference with phrases ending in a preposition
      • As a result of his achievements, he won the prize.
      • He had a lot of achievements. As a result, he won the prize.
      • As a consequence of the long hours at work, she was tired.
      • She worked long hours. As a consequence, she was tired.

Practice with Signal Words

  • Determine the signal word. Identify the cause. Identify the
  • effect. Understand the grammatical structure that follows.
  • President Obama claims that jobs have been saved as a result of the stimulus package.
  • The Supreme Court denied the petitioner’s case, for the Justices believed the petitioner did not meet his burden of proof.
  • The reason for the company’s success has been its continued expansion of its research and development division.
  • Her father had two jobs; as a consequence, she did not see him very often.
  • Halloween now rivals Christmas as the most popular American holiday, thereby dramatically increasing the sales of candy and costumes in the past ten years.

Practice with Signal Words

  • Decide which one if the cause and the effect. Then
  • create a sentence.
  • ____Coral reefs are dying
  • ____Scientists are trying to figure out ways to protect them.
  • (because)_________________________________________________________________________
  • ____There was a lot of rain this fall.
  • ____The pumpkin crop was not good.
  • (as a consequence of) ______________________________________________________________________________

Hook Paragraph

  • Dramatic Narrative or Statement
    • Example
    • The Collision
  • Darkness surrounds the car, except for two beams of light straining against the gloom. The rain pounds the car, tapping out a frantic beat. The undertone of the steady thumping of the windshield wipers combines with the rain to create a hypnotic rhythm; inside the car, the air is warm and enveloping. The windows, slightly fogged, sparkle from the lights of passing cars, and traffic lights. Now, the twinkling of the blinker light up the dashboard. The car eases into the next lane and WHAM! The rhythm is destroyed. Now, the sounds are the crunching, cracking and popping of metal on metal. The car has collided with another and careens to a stop. Although the car no longer moves, the effects of the car accident have now been set in motion.


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