Using Collocation to Boost Your IELTS Score – Key Word: Cause


Key Word: Cause

1          Verb + cause

Underline the verbs which mean ‘find’:

  1. The cause of the fire may never be discovered.
  2. The police never actually determined the cause of death.
  3. Investigators have been called in to establish the cause of the plane crash.
  4. Engineers are trying to isolate the cause of the problem.

2          Common adjective collocations

Complete the sentences below with the following:

common          exact                likely

real                  main                underlying

  1. Although they can’t be certain, the investigators think that the most _________ cause of the crash was that the driver of the train had a heart attack.
  2. The most _________ cause of air accidents is pilot error – not mechanical failure.
  3. Although the link is not clear, many politicians believe that unemployment is the _________ cause of a lot of urban crime.
  4. We don’t know why my aunt died. The post mortem will determine the _________ cause.
  5. Speeding is the ________ cause of road accidents.
  6. We all know what the inquiry said, but do you think that was the _________ cause of John’s death?

3          Cause + for

Use these words in the sentences below:

alarm              celebration      complaint

concern           optimism

  1. My grandmother’s failing health is giving us cause for _________ . She might have to go into hospital.
  2. We have run into some severe turbulence, but there is no cause for _________. Please fasten your seatbelts and remain seated till the ‘fasten seatbelts’ sign has been switched off.
  3. I have no cause for _________. The flights, the hotel, the food have all been excellent.
  4. Following the breakdown of talks, the present political climate gives little cause for _________ .
  5. Arsenal’s victory in the competition was cause for _________ and the fans partied till about 3am.

4          Common expressions

Match the two halves to make common expressions with cause:

1.         What do you think is

2.         It’s all a matter of

3.         I’ve never had any

4.         She’s never had a day off

5.         We don’t yet know

a.         without good cause.

b.         cause to complain.

c.         the cause of death.

e.         the cause of the pain?

d.         cause and effect.

 5          Cause (something people believe in)

A common meaning of cause is ‘reason’, but it can also mean something important that people believe in. For example:

A lot of people leave money in their will to good causes such as the NSPCC (the National Society for the prevention of cruelty to children).

Use a suitable preposition in these sentences:

  1. Most people want independence and many young men are willing to fight _________ the cause.
  2. These violent demonstrations will do little to further the cause _________ animal rights.
  3. Anti-smoking campaigners hope the public will be sympathetic _________ their cause.
  4. I don’t mind giving money if it is _________ a good cause.


1.         Note the following:

I’ve tried everything to get my money back from the company. I’m beginning to think it’s a lost cause.

2.         In 2-3 you can also say ‘root cause’- the basic, underlying cause.

3.         In 5-4 deserving is also possible.

Both in a good cause and for a good cause are equally correct.

4.         We use the French phrase – a cause célèbre – to talk about a very controversial issue.

5.         If you die ‘of natural causes’, you die of old age – not illness or accident.

6.         Notice in exercise 4 you say ‘without good cause’ and not ‘without a good cause’.

7.         You can ‘champion’ a cause. For example: Germaine Greer has championed the cause of feminism.



Ex 1:

  1. discovered 2. determined 3. establish 4. isolate

Ex 2:

  1. likely 2. common 3. underlying 4. exact 5. main 6. real

Ex 3:

  1. concern 2. alarm 3. complaint    4. optimism   5. celebration

Ex 4:

l-e        2-d       3-b       4-a       5-c

Ex 5:

  1. for             2. of           3. to      4. for

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Written By

Misbah Kagad is a Content Marketing Specialist, currently working as IELTS Trainer at Experience Expert with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Skilled in Copywriting, Web Content writing, Management, IELTS and Research. Strong professional with a Diploma focused in Computer Science... Currently helping aspirants to crack IELTS, with tips and tricks to score a bandwidth of 8 and more. Handles the ideation and creation of compelling content including content for IELTS website, writing e-books and solving previous IELTS question papers…

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