When should "due to" be preferred over "thanks to", and vice versa? When can they be used interchangeably?
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Thanks to has a positive connotation (unless used sarcastically). Due to is more neutral - it can have both a negative and a positive connotation.
The meaning difference has already been covered, but I think it’s worth pointing out that there is also a syntactical difference — the words due and thanks are not interchangeable, even in contexts where to do so would not affect the meaning.
Consider that, to replace due with thanks, this:
would usually be rephrased as this:
Although in the second case, due could be substituted. This is because due can also be interpreted as because, which can be taken as a motivator for personal action, while thanks cannot. It does not make sense to say that I did X thanks to Y, although it would if you were to say X was done thanks to Y. Unless you are using a verb that implies an ability to act, rather than an action itself.
Having said all that, this is such an incredibly subtle distinction that I would not be surprised to discover that it varies by country, or even more finely, but to the best of my knowledge this is how they are — or should be — used.
It seems to me that thanks to is always used if the reason (i.e., the text after the thanks to) is of a positive nature and the result is positive too, whereas with due to the reason is typically of a negative nature and the result as well. Mismatches indicate a deeper meaning, usually with some irony:
protected by tchrist Jun 26 '14 at 19:25
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