Writing Task 2 | Essay Language Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Cause and effect is a very common academic theme. You need to know how to express cause and effect relationships so that you can write an effective Task 2 essay.

​For more examples of cause and effect language, view our Cause and Effect Reading Lesson.

Exercise 1

​Click on the word or phrase in the following sentences which express cause and effect, and put them into the question box below.

Overfishing has led to a huge drop in the number of fish in the world’s oceans.

Here ‘led to’ is the phrase that links the cause and effect parts of the sentence.

Language Analysis

​Cause and effect relationships are often expressed with the following verbs.
contribute to
lead to

be affected by
be altered by
be caused by
be facilitated by
be transformed by
be modified by
be triggered by

The rising temperature of the sea is contributing to the destruction of coral reefs
The destruction of coral reefs is facilitated by the rising temperature of the sea. 

Exercise 2 | Identify the Cause

Which phrase A or B contains the cause?

1. A) The impact of having more cars on the roads B) is more frequent traffic jams.
2. A) The cause of the frequent traffic jams on today’s roads B) is the increasing number of private cars.
3. A) The result of increased investment in public transport B) is reduced congestion and better air quality.
4. A) There are many consequences of the decision to reduce fuel subsidies B) such as higher prices for the consumer for everyday goods as well as for transport.
5. A) The source of the terrible air pollution in some major cities B) is the burning of coal for heating in winter and the use of cars and other motorized transport.

Language Analysis

​Nouns can also be used to show cause/effect relationships.
impact of
result of
consequence of
effect of
An impact of the rising temperature of the sea is the destruction of coral reefs.

​The following nouns give the effect before the cause.
cause of
reason for
source of
cause of the destruction of coral reefs is the rising temperature of the sea.

Exercise 3

​Complete the sentences showing cause and effect relationships. The cause/effect language is given in brackets ().
1. Tsunamis often other disasters. (verb: trigger)
2. Many medical problems pollution. (verb: cause)
3. The earthquake the destruction of the city around 2000BC. (verb: lead to)
4. Recent advances in astronomy have the work done by the Hubble space telescope. (verb: owe much to)
5. Advances in science have improving the quality of life in developed societies over the last 100 years. (verb: contribute to)
6. Many people believe better exam results is easier tests for school children these days. (noun: reason)
7. Higher levels of hygiene have removed infection. (noun: source of)
8. her repeated success was that she worked very hard. (noun: reason)

As always, make sure to practice using this language in your essays so that you feel confident when it comes to the real IELTS test. 

For more practice, try our Cause and Effect Prepositions Quiz.
We also have a Cause and Effect in Academic Texts lesson for you.

For more free essay writing lessons, visit our IELTS Task 2 Essay Writing page.