The English language is mind-bogglingly confusing. There are so many random rules it’s enough to make your head spin.

Like, what’s the difference between “due to” and “because of,” exactly? And do you need to keep track of when to use one versus the other?

The differences are very subtle, but somewhat important, if you’re interested in being technically correct all the time, that is.

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Let’s start with “due to.” It’s really intended to be used alongside a noun. Here’s an example: “The soccer game’s postponement was due to thunderstorms.” In this case, the noun is “postponement.”

Now, let’s look at “because of,” which you’ll want to use with a verb. A similar, but slightly different sentence, looks like this: “The soccer game was postponed because of thunderstorms.” In this case, the verb is “postponed.”

Confusing? Yep. Sure is.

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Here are a few more examples from Reader’s Digest to help crystalize the different uses:

Right: The business failed because of its poor location.

Wrong: The business failed due to its poor location.

Right: The business’s failure was due to poor location.

Wrong: The business’s failure was because of poor location.

Make more sense? If these rules are just too confusing to keep straight, you can always work around using either of these phrases. Swap in something like “caused by” or “resulted in” instead. Voila! Problem solved.

What’s the one grammar or spelling rule that always trips you up?

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