Cause and effect

“Causing something to take place” isn’t incorrect. But 99 times out of 100, the native speaker would say it was “made to happen”.

The verb to cause is another of those words that are heavily overused by Dutch writers in English. (Unusually, though, it’s not because there’s a single, much more common equivalent in Dutch. Must have something to do with the mindset.)

  • als gevolg van => because, because of, resulting from
  • ervoor zorgen => make, make happen
  • vanwege => because of
  • eliminate altogether: “causes the shaft to rotate” can become “makes the shaft rotate”, but quite often “rotates the shaft” is fine too!

It also seems to be a favourite mistake of DeepL and Google Translate, perhaps because they’re partly populated by non-native input.

Prevalence: very high. Semi-formal scientific writing in particular loves this word, but it can turn up anywhere.
Frequency: high. I’ve known it turn up three times in the same sentence…
Native: rarely. Probably mostly when we fall into translation bear-pits rather than in natural usage.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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