Common Errors in Written English: Because, Cause

How “Because” Lost Its “Be” and Why It Should Be Restored

by Owen Fourie

I would like to deal with the use of the word because and its corruption in texting. To do this, I have to give some perspective of the roles of formality and informality in the use of language.

Formality and informality

Formality in the use of spoken and written language is necessary for clear communication. It cannot be dismissed as something that is no longer useful. It is there as a standard that is needed to eliminate confusion.

Informal usage has its place in daily life, and it is absolutely necessary. Informal use of a language allows you to relax and let go of rigid requirements and is as welcome as changing into relaxed gear from formal and professional dress.

Informality does not mean the complete dismissal of formality. Formality and its rules remain to preserve a civilization, its order, and its common understanding in all forms of communication.

With the increasing dominance of the Internet, informal use of a language seems to be shaking the foundations of all formal structures. This is a portal to confusion.

To be aware of the rules of formal writing and speech and then to engage in informal use is fine. To be unaware of the rules of formality and to use language informally is a prescription for chaos.

Texting

Rapid communication, such as texting, has led to the use of abbreviations and many errors that have become standard for users who are unfamiliar with, or neglectful of, formality in communication. In a more formal context, they make mistakes that can be costly.

A glaring instance of this is found in the use of the word cause for because.

I became aware of this a few years ago when I was grading a student’s essay. Several instances in one essay of the use of cause for because made me realize that the student was unaware of the distinction between the two words and that her use of cause for because was an error of ignorance.

Discussion with the student confirmed my suspicions, and I found out, too, that this is quite common in texting where variations such as cos and cuz are used to mean because.

In a report of Paris Hilton’s brush with the police in Port Elizabeth, South Africa at the Brazil-Netherlands quarter final in the 2010 World Cup, her Twitter message to her followers is noted:

I was not charged or arrested, cause I didn’t do anything…”

Let’s be clear about cause and because

These are two different words.

Cause is used as a noun and as a verb.

As a noun it has the meaning of being the cause of some effect or result or consequence:

Forensic experts are still looking for the cause of the fire.

It can also be used to refer to something that might describe a movement or a campaign – something done for the cause of freedom:

The changes sweeping the Middle East were inconceivable a short while ago, but the cause of freedom has gained momentum.

Because is a conjunction. It simply indicates that something is the way it is for the reason that

They waited for the rain to stop because they did not want to get wet.

If you have to abbreviate because in your texting, at least give an indication that you are aware of the correct usage by placing an apostrophe before cause or cuz or cos. Instead of writing cause, write ’cause.

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What other corruptions or incorrect usages are you aware of in texting? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

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