1

So far, the question about the difference between the terms from the title was asked several times here and on ELU but I'm not asking about the grammatical difference my question is about semantics.

Please let me make it clearer:

In my language, there's a clear distinction between the terms so as to that they cannot semantically be used interchangeable as due to carries a positive connotation whereas because of carries a negative one. Due to is closer to owing to or thanks to. This said, in my language, you cannot say:

I feel unhappy due to/owing to the fact that I broke my leg.

It is as if I were to say:

I feel unhappy thanks to the fact that I broke my leg.

It is correct to say:

I feel unhappy because I broke my leg.

Inverse, you cannot say:

I'm glad because you came.

So you would correctly say:

I'm glad due/owing/thanks to your coming.

Despite all the above, in my language, many well educated people journalists, TV show people, etc. make this mistake when using those terms. It is actually a common mistake.

I didn't see hitherto such a distinction in English which is why I wonder if there is one or, like in my language, people don't care too much about their use.

  • This is not really your answer, but your question invited me to reflect on the question: Are human thoughts universal? You may (or may not) find my reflection interesting. (Warning: read it at your own risk. :-) – Damkerng T. Jun 20 '15 at 11:07
  • @DamkerngT., I found it quite interesting.:-) – Lucian Sava Jun 20 '15 at 16:28
3

There is no semantic distinction comparable to that in your language between due to, owing to, thanks to, because of. Any of them may be employed to signify the cause of both happy and unpleasant events.

2014 was our best year ever, due to the outstanding efforts of the marketing department.
2014 was our best year ever, thanks to the outstanding efforts of the marketing department.
2014 was our best year ever, owing to the outstanding efforts of the marketing department.
2014 was our best year ever, because of the outstanding efforts of the marketing department.

2014 was a complete disaster, due to the rank incompetence of the marketing department.
2014 was a complete disaster, thanks to the rank incompetence of the marketing department.
2014 was a complete disaster, owing to the rank incompetence of the marketing department.
2014 was a complete disaster, because of the rank incompetence of the marketing department.

  • I may be wrong, but I think that "thanks to" is odd man out because it's the only one that I think really needs the comma before it. – Damkerng T. Jun 20 '15 at 12:31
  • @DamkerngT. Mmmm ... I think omitting the comma changes the sense with all of them: it makes the preposition phrase a restrictive modifier on the preceding nominal rather than a sentential modifier. "We've had a lot of great years/disasters, but the others were attributable to good/bad weather; 2014 was a great year/disaster attributable to the marketing department's efforts." – StoneyB Jun 20 '15 at 12:53
  • Much obliged @StoneyB!:-) +1 – Lucian Sava Jun 20 '15 at 16:29
1

There is no difference in meaning. As "due to" is ultimately French/Latin it is not very frequent in normal spoken language. In written language it is a slightly elevated variant of "because of". As the latter preposition is used very frequently there are variants.

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