Cause and Effect Text Structure: How to Use It?

Cause and effect text structure is one of nonfiction and fiction texts’ most commonly used narrative patterns. In this article, we will explore its basic principles and provide tips for using it effectively in your writing.

What Is Cause-Effect Text Structure?

This type of text structure is often used in nonfiction texts to describe cause-and-effect relationships. For example, a cause-effect text might explain how germs can compromise the immune system and lead to illnesses like runny nose and cough or how cold weather can make you wear a jacket. 

Tip: Fiction passages or narrative texts can also benefit from a cause-effect text structure as it builds momentum and moves the story forward. 

What Is the Structure of Cause and Effect? 

Cause and effect text structure in literature is typically linear, with the cause preceding the effect. However, there can be cases where the effect occurs before the cause or without a clear cause-and-effect relationship. There can also be various reasons, leading to multiple effects.

Here are two common structures of cause-and-effect passages: 

Block Structure 

For short essays, you can use a block structure, which is laid out like this: 

photo showing the block structure of a cause and effect.

Remember that you can use several causes and effects in a block structure. 

Point-By-Point Structure

In this structure, you will not have separate cause-and-effect paragraphs. Instead, you will combine them together. 

photo showing the point by point cause and effect text structure

How to Identify a Cause and Effect Structure?

There are signal words that can help identify the results of an action. These signal words include: 

  • If/then
  • Reasons 
  • Why
  • Since
  • Because
  • As a result
  • This led to
  • Consequently
  • Due to
  • Cause
  • Effect 
  • So

For example, if a character in a text says, “If I don’t get this math test done, my mom is going to be really mad,” it is reasonable to assume that the character’s mother will be angry if the character does not pass the math test.

How to Use Cause-Effect Text Structure?

You can use a cause-effect text structure in fiction or nonfiction passages in many ways. Here are some ideas: 

  1. Explain how something works or why something happened 
  2. Show how one character’s actions can alter the plot of a storyline. 
  3. Highlight the effects of a cause leading to a character’s downfall. 
  4. Use it in comedy when revealing the events leading up to a humorous situation.
  5. Explain a lesson or topic by outlining the steps that lead up to a particular event.
  6. Use flashbacks as the cause of the current situation. 

Tip: If you want an effective essay using this common text structure, use clear and organized expository texts. Using transitional words and phrases to connect the two crucial elements – the cause and the effect – are also effective.  

Example of Cause and Effect Text Structure 

“The company went bankrupt because it invested all its money in a new factory.” 

From the above example, the company went bankrupt (effect) because they invested all their money in a new factory (cause). 

To better understand how cause and effect texture structures, here are more examples:

Example#1: Because the roads were icy, many car accidents occurred.
Cause: The roads were icy.
Effect: Many car accidents occurred.
Example#2: After John ate the entire cake, he felt sick.
Cause: John ate the entire cake.
Effect: John felt sick.
Example#3: Due to the earthquake, the elevators failed.
Cause: The earthquake.
Effect: The elevators failed.
Example#4: The students hated the new teacher because she was strict. 
Cause: The new teacher was strict.
Effect: The students hated her.
Example#5: Sarah felt anxious and sweaty after spilling coffee on her blouse.
Cause: Sarah spilled coffee on her blouse.
Effect: Sarah felt anxious and sweaty.
Example#6: The car wouldn't start, so we had to call a tow truck.
Cause: The car wouldn't start.
Effect: We had to call a tow truck.

How Do You Write a Cause and Effect Structure? 

A common way to write a cause-and-effect structure is to start with the cause and then move on to the effect. You can also start with the effect and then move on to the reason. If you want to try a cause-and-effect structure, consider the following tips: 

  1. Brainstorm a list of possible causes and effects. 
  2. Organize the cause and effect into a structure that makes sense. 
  3. When writing about a cause, you must identify the event or situation that caused it. Then, write about how that event affected the outcome.
  4. If you are writing about an effect, you must write about how the event or situation affected the people or things involved.
  5. Ensure your story has a logical flow to help your readers follow along and enjoy reading it. Finally, keep your story interesting by including exciting and suspenseful events.

Bonus Tip: There are many different ways to write a cause-and-effect text structure essay. Whatever you choose, ensure you include both the cause and the effect and explain them clearly and concisely. 

Final Thoughts 

The cause-and-effect text structure is an excellent way to add engagement and suspense to your stories and ultimately make your essay more compelling content your readers will love. 

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