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When one reads a given passage, she/he follows the development of its main
idea. In order to follow it with understanding, one must be able to reestablish
mentally the facts, details, etc. in exactly the order in which they were
placed by the writer of that passage. Inability or forgetting to do this may
well cause the reader to misunderstand the sequence of facts, details, etc, as
they have been deliberately arranged, and this misunderstanding can affect
comprehension of the total passage significantly.

Details, as stated previously, are never arranged at random in a

passage, but in a deliberate order. The most important order of such details is
that of cause and effect. In such an ordering, one of the details represents the
cause in a given situation. Once an event occurs, something else happens as
a result of it. Here are some obvious examples:

1. There was ice on the sidewalk where I slipped and fell. The icy
sidewalk is the cause; the fall is the effect.
2. The King died and then Queen died of grief, -The King’s death is the
cause; the Queen’s death is the effect.
3. The recent slump in the stock market led him too heavy drinking after
work each night.- The stock market activity is the cause; the person’s
heavy drinking is the effect. (Note the importance of the word “ Led”
in the above sentence)
4. Pilot Strike Slow Yule Rush a newspaper which night appear around
Christmas time. The strike by the airline pilots is the cause; the
slowing down of people and gifts in reaching their destination is the
5. I am now working few hours a day, but before the accident occurred. I
was putting in lots of overtime.
-Note in this example, the reversal of position of these two elements. The
accident suffered by this person is the inferred cause (although it is
mentioned later); the limited work hours are the effect.)

Cause and effect relationships represent the most important set of

sequences, which a reader must follow in order to comprehend main

The most important arrangement of details is called cause and effect. The
main idea may state the cause, and the supporting details may state the
effects. Or they may be reversed – the main idea stating the effects and
the supporting details presenting the cause.

Read the paragraph below.

Find cause the details, which describe how the car became wrecked.
Then find the effect – the bead-on crash.
No one knows for sure why the car failed to make the curve and
smashed head-on into the large oak tree just off the rod. However, a
careful investing by the police has revealed three factors in the accident;
From long skid marks on the road-side, it was estimated that the high
powered sports car entered the curve at well over 70 mph. Blood test
shoed that the driver had been drinking heavily. And the road surface was
wet at the time of the accident.

There are several important reasons why Mike, high school senior,
was rejected by the hiring supervisor at local electronics company.


Mike’s first problem was his poorly prepared job application. Because he
filled it in during the bus ride to the interview, Mike mode many errors. The
paper was filled with erasures, crossing out, out blank spaces. Another
reason was Mike’s po9or appearance; he wrote fade jeans and an old flannel
shirt to the interview. In addition, he was late, thereby making both himself
and the interview uncomfortable. As a result, Mike a bad impression to
demonstrate his fine abilities.

1. What phrase in the first sentence signals a paragraph developed with
2. Name five additional words or phrase that sign; the cause for Mike’s

Recognizing that authors signal that the cause of a position will be

developed as part of an argument helps you to focus on those causes. Some
frequency used signals are: ‘several important reasons, factors; leads to,
‘because,; one reason,’ ‘and’, ‘since’.


Mike’s rejection by the hiring supervisor led several changes in his attitude
toward seeking a job. He made an effort to have a well-prepared
application, which he checked for its thoroughness and appearance.
He was determined to look presentable and so he chose his clothing
carefully the evening before the interview. Arriving late for the first
interview effected his planning for the next one; he arranged for a
ride to the plant and left extra time for unexpected delays. As a
result of his efforts, Mike arrived on time, locked presentable, and
appeared confident through out the interview. The effect was so
positive to Mike’s attitude that he was able to demonstrate his
abilities during the interview. As consequence of his efforts, Mike
was offered a position at the plant.

1. What word in the first sentence signals paragraph that develops
2. Name four additional words or phrases that signal effects in the


Once you can identify the cause and effects the author uses to support
a position, you can understand the literal or stated ideas in the passage,
However, there are deeper understandings you can draw from argumentative
and other writing styles. The following paragraphs appeared at the beginning
of this chapter. Read them now to see how your understanding of the
development of an argument supported by causes and / or effects can help
you to form conclusions about a person.