I usually meet "due to" usage in a document or conversation, but in different ways. I did some research and found out that "due to" is adjectival.

Thus, the correct sentence should be:

The cancellation was due to rain

Instead of:

It was cancelled due to rain

But when I looked it up in Longman Dictionary, I found:

She has been absent from work due to illness

Can anybody tell me why the above sentence is correct?


4 Answers 4


Chambers Dictionary has the following explanation:

due to
It is sometimes argued that, because due is an adjective, due to should have a noun or pronoun that it refers back to (an antecedent), as in• • Absence from work due to sickness has certainly not been falling (where 'absence' is the antecedent)• . This argument would disallow sentences like:

?• A special train service was cancelled due to operating difficulties (where due to is effectively a preposition).

This point of view is based on the word's behaviour in its other meanings; in this meaning it has taken on a new grammatical role that is now well established. Due to often refers back to a whole clause even when there is a notional antecedent, as with 'starvation' in the sentence• • Out in the countryside, two million people are at risk of starvation, due to the failure of the harvest.

RECOMMENDATION: it is correct to use due to in both the ways shown


I disagree with calling "due to" an adjective because it isn't describing a noun. A prepositional phrase, yes; an adjective, no.

The sentences in your examples are correct as "due to" is synonymous with "because of."

  • In the sentence 'The cancellation was due to rain.' the phrase 'due to' is acting adjectivally to the noun 'rain'. Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 11:21
  • @Donkey_2009 That isn’t what an adjective is, and not all things that modify nouns are adjectives.
    – tchrist
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 12:38

The rule you're referring to is as follows:

'Due to' should always be used adjectivally, and never as a conjunction. For all other purposes, use 'owing to'.

Thus, you may say:

The cancellation of the service is owing to lack of interest.

or equally

The cancellation of the service is due to lack of interest.


Owing to lack of interest, the carol service has been cancelled.

But you may not say

Due to lack of interest, the carol service has been cancelled.

Kingsley Amis, in his book 'The King's English' had this to say

I have investigated the origins of this rule, and nothing substantial or satisfactory emerges. It seems to be just a rule.

Which does not mean that it can safely or praiseworthily be ignored, and I must confess that to my pair of ears or organs of grammatical fitness the exclusion of due to as an introductory phrase is justified.

According to this rule then, the sentence from your dictionary -

She has been absent from work due to illness.

is ungrammatical. The fact that it's printed in the dictionary is a reflection that, over the years, people have come to ignore the due to/owing to rule, and you now hear 'due to' used as a conjunction all the time (which can cause be annoying if you like the rule). Prescriptivism (language rules) is unfashionable in English these days, so it's not uncommon to find examples in dictionaries which break some 'rule'.


Due to is French, from a past participle dû/due from the verb devoir, from Latin debere. And due to is modelled after French dû à quelque chose (due to something). And there is no restriction to its use. As it is French it is a bit elevared style. Due to has about the meaning: and the cause thereof goes back to/ caused by

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