The question is a multiple choice

I don't think you have any real cause _____ complaint.

Choices are ( of / for / with / on)

Clearly it's either of or for. In my model answer it should be "for"

"Revenge was the main _____ the fire.

Choices ( reason for / cause of / reason of )

It should be "reason for".

There must be a difference between cause and reason in their usages and also prepositions ?

  • They're usually pretty much interchangeable, but personally I think the cause of something more strongly implies the actual agent, where the reason for it might simply be something making it more likely that the agent would do whatever it was. That's why I'd tend to choose reason for in the second example, but it's a bad question if it implies that cause of is somehow "incorrect" (it's actually fine). Note that cause for complaint is something of an established idiom (You have no cause for disagreement / disagreeing, for example, isn't very idiomatic). Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 14:50

1 Answer 1



usually describes how something happened.


usually describes why something happened.

Revenge was the main reason for the fire. (why)
Spilled gasoline was the cause of the fire. (how)

"Cause" can use either "for" and "of" depending on circumstances.

cause for complaint
cause of the complaint

"Reason" uses "for" in order to explain something.

reason for complaining
reason to complain

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