This post is really the cornerstone of my Grammar Rules. It’s where my frustration at inaccuracies really begins. And it’s all Miss Wassell’s fault. Miss Wassell was one of my high school teachers. She’s to be thanked for much of what I know about grammar and English, and for much of my love of the language and its literature. My mistakes are all my own (as is my distaste for Pride and Prejudice and for Colin Firth therein).
Actually, if memory serves (and it usually doesn’t) I think the importance of this particular rule Miss Wassell’s Grandma’s fault, but Miss Wassell passed it to me. I’m going to pass it to you and, in doing so, recruit you to the legions shaking their fists at train station tannoys the world over.
Due to DOES NOT, NEVER HAS, and NEVER SHOULD mean Because of.
Got it? That’s it. That’s the rule. Stop reading.
Still here? OK, I’ll elaborate. Due to usually means “supposed to”. For example, “the train is due to arrive at 11.10″, “Owen is due to give me back the tenner he borrowed.”
So, you should NEVER say “Due to unforeseen circumstances”. Use either Because of, or Owing to.
See that phrase “owing to”? Not many people use it these days, but it’s sly, because “Owing to” can mean “Due to”.
“What?” I hear you say.
See Owen up there, with his (my) tenner? Well, that tenner is owing to me, it is also due to me. So he is due to give me back the tenner, which is due to me because of my lending it to him earlier. We’re using two different meaning of the same phrase in one sentence, and that’s just confusing.
Thoroughly confused now?
Keep It Simple
Don’t worry about the confusion. Whenever you’re tempted to use due to, mentally replace it with because of in the sentence. If it works STOP using due to. Go ahead and actually replace it with because of. If the mental replacement doesn’t work, you’re probably using due to correctly. Thank you, you are lowering my blood pressure, and that of Miss Wassell’s Grandma.