Due to, meaning “attributable to,” modifies noun phrases, not verb clauses. If you can substitute “attributable to” for “due to” in a sentence, you’ve used the phrase correctly. If “attributable to” doesn’t work as an alternative, you need to reword.

For instance, in the sentence “The tennis match’s delay was due to the rain,” you can switch out “due to” with “attributable to,” yielding “The tennis match’s delay was attributable to the rain,” because due to modifies the noun phrase “the tennis match’s delay.” If the sentence read, “The tennis match was delayed due to the rain,” “attributable to” would no longer work as a substitute for “due to.” This is because “due to” here is misused to modify a verb phrase, “The tennis match was delayed.” Here, if you want to retain the verb phrase, an easy rewrite would be “The tennis match was delayed by the rain” or “The tennis match was delayed because of the rain.”

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Barney Latimer

As senior editor of MLA publications, Barney Latimer has copyedited PMLA articles for more than ten years. He holds an MA in English from New York University. He has taught high school and college classes in writing and literary analysis, as well as seminars in poetry writing at several nonprofit organizations that serve New Yorkers with mental illness.