TESOL/Cause

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English provides various ways of describing the causal relationships between things.

So and because[edit]

The words so and because are opposites. They both indicate that one phrase is a cause of the other, but they do so in opposite directions.

A -> B B -> A
A so B B because of A

Because "so" and "because" are opposites, phrases joined by them can be reversed without changing the meaning if they are exchanged.

It started raining so I brought my umbrella.
I brought my umbrella because It started raining.

In spite of[edit]

Meaning[edit]

The phrase in spite of functions as a preposition and means the opposite of "because," in a sense. Both "because of A" and "in spite of A" mean that something happened, but "because of A" means that A was at least helpful, but "in spite of A" means that A was unhelpful.

Example Meaning
I found it because of the map The map was clear and accurate.
I found it in spite of the map The map was confusing and full of mistakes.

Despite has the same meaning but is more formal.

Mechanics[edit]

"In spite of" may come before a noun. In that case, it basically equals although.

It may also come before a verb in -ing form.

  • I crossed the bridge in spite of being afraid of heights.
  • She caught a cold in spite of taking vitamins everyday.
  • He failed the exam in spite of studying hard.

Quiz[edit]

1 I forgot the milk - writing it on my memo pad.

2 The food has gone bad - we can't eat it now.

3 He asked me a question - I explained it to him.

4 She found it - she had been looking carefully.