Remember when that annoying light came on while you were driving home last night? Turns out it really did serve a purpose—to tell you one of your tires was low.
Unfortunately, you ignored the warning light. Unfortunately, you missed class because of your flat tire this morning. Because you missed class, you failed a quiz.
This is a perfect example of cause and effect.
The problem: Another light appeared on your dashboard.
The cause: Low air pressure in a tire.
The effects: You missed class. Because you missed class, you didn’t realize there would be a quiz next week, and you failed the quiz.
Writing an effective cause and effect essay isn’t that different from the facts of this scenario. You’ll outline the causes, the effects, or both the causes and effects of a specific problem or issue.
To better illustrate this, let’s take a look at the basics of this essay type before we dive into two cause and effect essay examples.
Basic Training: Cause and Effect Essays
In order to understand how to write a good cause and effect essay, you need to know four basic points.
#1 Know the purpose of the assignment
In order to write an effective essay, you need to follow your professor’s guidelines.
If your topic is childhood obesity, are you supposed to write about the causes, the effects, or about both the causes and effects of childhood obesity?
Paying attention to guidelines really does make a difference in your grade! Know what you’re supposed to be writing before you begin.
#2 Draft a thesis statement
The thesis statement will establish the focus for your paper. In a cause and effect essay, your thesis should let readers know if you’re writing about causes, effects, or both.
Check out these examples:
Thesis statements about obesity might look like one of these.
If the focus of your paper is the causes of obesity, your thesis statement might be something like this:
Children today are increasingly overweight primarily due to overconsumption of highly processed foods.
If the focus of your paper is the effects of obesity, your thesis statement might be something like this:
The recent increase in childhood obesity has resulted in children suffering from numerous health problems, including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
If the focus of your paper is both causes and effects of obesity, your thesis statement might be something like this:
Due to overconsumption of highly processed foods, childhood obesity is becoming epidemic and leaving children with numerous health problems, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
#3 Organize evidence
If you start writing with a jumbled mess of thoughts in your head, your paper is likely going to end up a jumbled mess.
Organize your ideas by starting with a simple chart like this (fancy colors optional, of course). It’s a quick way to list information before you actually begin writing.
You may not end up using all of the causes and effects listed in your chart. But by listing as many as you can think of, you’ll be able to choose the best options for your paper.
#4 Use transitions
Readers need to be able to see how you’re connecting ideas. Move from one idea to the next by using the right transitions and transition sentences.
Here’s a list of transitions you might use in your own cause and effect paper:
- due to
- as a result
And for nearly endless transitional possibilities, check out 97 Transition Words for Essays You Need to Know.
With basic training complete, let’s take a look at two cause and effect essay examples. Then you can see what these elements look like in an actual paper.
2 Cause and Effect Essay Examples That Will Cause a Stir
Essay Example #1: Examining Childhood Obesity
This essay causes a stir not because it’s an amazing paper but because it’s still in need of some revision.
It’s a good start to a cause and effect essay but struggles to get it right.
The essay does provide an overview of the topic, lists causes and effects, and uses transitions. But it has its share of concerns too.
One of the key problems in the introductions is the lack of a thesis statement. At the end of the first paragraph, it does have a broad overview. However, it lacks the specificity of a strong thesis statement.
The body of the paper struggles with organization. It does includes a lot of ideas and research. But it doesn’t quite organize and develop them.
While the paper uses transitions to link ideas, it goes overboard. It includes transitions to link lists of statements rather than introduce fully developed arguments.
Finally, the conclusion is almost non-existent. A Works Cited is also missing.
Hopefully that helps you avoid some of these issues in your own essay. Now let’s dive into the second of our two cause and effect essay examples.
Essay Example #2: The Negative Effects of Technology
Though this paper struggles a bit with organization, it does include a clear thesis, use of transitions to link ideas, and a basic discussion of the negative effects of technology.
Note that this paper uses evidence from sources to support ideas but doesn’t always use proper in-text citations and does not include a Works Cited. Both of these are required in MLA format.
Congratulations! Your basic training using cause and effect essay examples is complete.
Now that you know the basic components of a cause and effect essay and can spot them in a sample essay, it’s time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
Remember the weak elements in the cause and effect essay examples as you write your own essay to make yours shine.
If you’ve drafted some causes and effects to your topic but are stumped as to how to put them into essay format, try outlining. (Read How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay Outline.)
After you’ve outlined and have a complete draft, send your paper to a Kibin editor to make sure your paper is in good shape!
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
Cause and Effect TopicsWhen selecting your topic for this essay, you should find an event, trend, or phenomenon that has a fairly obvious cause and effect. You can pick very big topics like World War II and attribute a cause and effect to it by not exploring every possible reason why it started and what its effects were. Just pick a few causes and effects that you can attribute to it and make some notes before you start writing.
For example, let’s say that you’ve chosen the October Revolution of 1917 as your topic. What are some key elements to this event? There are MANY but let’s pick war, living conditions, and political repression. Now let’s break these down further:
War: The Russian Empire had already killed off many of its young soldiers in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and in the early years of World War I. The Provisional Government that came after the monarchy in February 1917 didn’t do much better in WWI. This resulted in people being angry about losing so many soldiers and resources for the war effort.
Living Conditions: Life for both the peasants in the countryside and the workers in the city was abysmal. This went hand in hand with an elite who used up many of the country’s wealth for their own personal pleasure. This resulted in people being angry for having so little while others had so much.
Political Repression: There was no political freedom in the Russian Empire. There was no “real” constitution, parliament, or elections that weren’t controlled by either the monarchy or later by the Provisional Government. Because of political repression, anyone who disagreed with the status quo was subjected to arrest, exile, or execution. People wanted more freedoms like other citizens had in Western Europe.
Other Cause and Effect Essay Topics
- How divorce effects children
- Why some friendships end
- The effect of the American Civil War on race relations in the US
- The effect of birth control on the Sexual Revolution
- The effects of poverty on people’s psychology
- Why first-year college roommates rarely get along
- The positive effects of a healthy lifestyle
- Why some romantic partners cheat
- How second-wave feminism effected gender relations between men and women
- The effects of drugs on prenatal development
How to Write a Cause and Effect EssayNow that you have selected a suitable topic, you can begin to write your cause and effect essay.
Step 1: You need to explain the effects by making appropriate links to the causes. This is where your breakdown of the topic will help you.
Step 2: Be sure to only focus on a few points. Too many will overcomplicate everything for your reader.
Step 3: Organize your essay
- Begin with your thesis statement. It should state the event, phenomenon, or trend that you want to explore in your essay.
- All of the other paragraphs should begin with topic sentences that explore one of the cause and effect aspects. In the October 1917 example, you discuss the war's cause and effects in one paragraph.
- End your essay by drawing your discussion together neatly.
Cause and Effect Essay ExamplesThe causes and effects of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia are enough to fill volumes upon volumes of text. However, I will explore three main causes of this revolution. These were namely war, terrible living conditions, and political repression. While there were other factors involved, these three basic causes created ripple effects that left almost no one in the former Russian Empire untouched and a country ripe for further revolution…
Many people wonder what caused the writer Fyodor Dostoevsky to transform from a potential revolutionary to a fervent skeptic of revolution and an ardent Russian Orthodox Christian. Pivotal moments in the writer’s life played a role in his transformation. This included the murder of his father by his peasants, his near execution that was only stopped on the tsar’s orders, his imprisonment and exile in Omsk, and his battle with poverty. Due to all of these factors, Dostoevsky was changed not only as a person, but as a writer as well…
- Proper formatting