Usage and Grammar

Q. An article I wrote recently was copyedited, and wherever I had begun a sentence with “Due to” the editor changed it to “Owing to” or “Because of.” What’s the difference?

A. Your copyeditor was following a rule that is fast losing ground to common usage. Strictly speaking, “due” is an adjective and is properly used as such: “Her headache was due to a paralyzing fear of hearing the same song twice.” If you wrote “Due to her fear, she threw the radio out the window,” the adjective phrase would be left dangling, without anything to modify. “Owing to” and “because of” act as prepositions, so in writing “Because of her fear” you create a prepositional phrase that can modify the verb “threw.” By the way, The Chicago Manual of Style includes a chapter on grammar. For a discussion of “due to”—and many other grammatical issues—see chapter 5.