Monday, September 11, 2017

Why you can't begin a sentence with "Due to"

One of the tasks of journalists is to get facts and the language right.

We need to get the facts right, for obvious reasons. We need to get the language right, because a wrong preposition or a phrase or a punctuation or a word can even alter the meaning of a sentence.

If there is a mistake in language, it might essentially amount to getting the fact wrong.

Even after so many years in the profession of journalism, I keep looking up the dictionary and renowned publications every day with doubts regarding a word or a phrase. It's always a learning experience, and I thought I must make it a practice to put out here in the blog what I learn. The last time I blogged on "Language" was in 2007.

There is this endless debate on the difference between "due to" and "owing to". Though many believe that the two are synonymous, many puritans aren't amused if one is used in the place of the other.

Here's what I have learnt:

Due to:
  • It means "caused by"
  • Never begin a sentence with "due to". Actually you can't.
  • The right place where it's used is after variations of the verb "to be", like "is", "was", "are", "were".
For example:
  • His absence was due to illness
  • His success was due to hardwork
  • The cancellation of the concert was due to rain
Notice here:
  • You cannot rephrase these sentences by starting them with "Due to".
  • The sentences are incomplete if you cut off the portion from 'due to'. 
Owing to
  • It means "because of"
  • You can begin a sentence with "owing to".
  • Before 'owing to' you don't have "is", "was", "are", or "were", instead you have a noun, or something that describes the noun.

    For example:
  • He was absent owing to illness
  • He was successful owing to sheer hardwork
  • The concert was cancelled owing to the rain
Notice here:
  • You can rephrase these sentences by starting them with "Owing to".
  • The sentences are complete if you cut off the portion from 'owing to'. 
This is the reason you can't begin a sentence with "Due to".


  1. Thank you so much for clarifying this. I learnt something new owing to reading your blog post. But, in general, people all the time make these kinds of errors. Want to write here a joke I read somewhere.

    At Harvard University, a freshman (new student) asked a senior student: “Can you tell me where the library is at?” The senior snubbed him: “At Harvard, we never end a sentence with a preposition”. The freshman rephrased his question: “Can you tell me where the library is at, you Axx Hxxx?”

    1. The difficulty with language is that it's constantly evolving. What is perfectly acceptable today, wasn't okay many years ago. For example, today, used to be written with a hyphen: to-day.

      That conversation at Harvard was interesting! It sums up what language usage is all about!

  2. This post is interesting owing to its simplicity. Simple, useful examples.

  3. Useful post.I knew that 'due to' doesn't come in the beginning. But Can't it be used with other words other than the variants of'be'?
    'He came late due to a traffic jam ? Is it correct?