“Due To” Gets its Dues
I must have fallen asleep in English class the day they discussed the proper use of the phrase “due to.” As my editor (husband) was proofreading an article I had written, he told me I should rewrite the sentence, “The average person has a 33% chance of losing data whether it’s due to a virus, faulty hard drive, or simply human error.” As an English major and a writer, I was embarrassed that I had never heard of this grammar rule denouncing the use of “due to.”
So, I did what I always do when I need some clarification. I turned to the internet for an official ruling. Aside from the fact that “due to” is often overused in formal and academic writing (especially in this post), it is often used incorrectly.
The general rule seems to be that “because” or “because of” should be used instead. If you really want to use “due to,” it should modify a noun and usually follows a form of the verb “to be.”
Before we judge my sentence, let’s look at a few shorter examples:
- My good health is due to proper diet. In this sentence, “due to” is modifying the noun "health" and follows the third person singular present of be, “is.”
- The game was canceled due to rain. This sentence is incorrect because “due to” does not modify a noun or follow a form of the verb “to be.”
That makes sense, but I was still struggling with my sentence. I broke it apart until I was left with just, “it is due to a virus.” Here, “due to” is modifying the noun "it" and follows the verb “is.” Looks like despite somehow missing an important grammar lesson I still got it right.
A quick test to see if you are using “due to” correctly is to substitute it with “caused by” or “resulting from.” Also, sentences beginning with “due to” are likely to be incorrect.
When in doubt, skip “due to” and go with “because of.” In the end, that’s what I did and the sentence that was published read, “The average person has a 33% chance of losing data whether it’s because of a virus, faulty hard drive, or simply human error.”