Things my Copy Editor Taught Me (or tried to)

Due to/Because of

The Copy Editor’s JOB is to correct my grammar (so I won’t look like an idiot in front of the readers), and thus they’re generally far more cognizant of what correct grammar should look like. Therefore, when one of them dings me on something, I try to figure out what I’m doing wrong so we won’t have to go through it again on the next book.

But this one?

I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone correct my use of ‘due to’ before.  I had no idea that it mattered, but according to a few sites I’ve visited, I do use the word pair incorrectly.

I had no clue.

It comes down to this: due to is only to be used as an adjective, not a preposition.  So it modifies a noun.

Grammar Girl explains it here:

The traditional view is that you should use “due to” only as an adjective, usually following the verb “to be” (1). For example, if you say, “The cancelation was due to rain,” the words “due to” modify “cancelation.” 

In other words, if you don’t have a was directly before it, you’re probably not supposed to use ‘due to’.

KU explains the traditionalist opinion here.  There’s even a little quiz at the end of the lesson.  (I got them all correct, simply by using the tip above.)


The most interesting thing about this is that the two copy editors -before- this one never noticed that error.  In fact, on her second page, Grammar Girl pretty much says that this one is fading away.  But that tells me that because of/due to is one of this most recent copy editor’s particular bugaboos.

I have those, too, BTW.  Want me to throw your book across the room? Use further when you should be using farther. Further/Farther really bugs me. Also, I grit my teeth if you use prodigal incorrectly.  That word does not mean what you think it means….



Definition of prodigal (

recklessly wasteful, “prodigal in their expenditures”

extravagant, profligate, spendthrift

tending to squander and waste

Nowhere there do you find the definition being “someone who goes away and comes back”.  So the “prodigal son” you’re talking about had to have wasted a lot of money before you use that adjective on him.  (Noun usage is a bit different, BTW.)

Yes, it irritates me…


I’ve said all that because yesterday I posted an interesting correction wherein the copy editor who dinged me on my improper use of ‘due to‘ failed to notice that I use ‘different than.

Now you will see in this explanation that ‘different from’ is preferred over ‘different than‘.  (If you want to see real grammar sniping, btw, read the comments!)

Here’s a nice bit from the Oxford dictionary people where they shrug about the whole thing, but add different to to the equation (a usage apparently used more by the Brits.)

One of my previous copy editors -did- call me out on this one, yet had no objection to my ‘due to’ usage.

Basically, I think this is the same situation as my further aversion. Every copy editor will have the thing that annoys them, and they will notice every time you do that thing.  But what bugs one doesn’t bug the next, so it’s a challenge to try to write well enough to make them all happy.  A never-ending quest…





ETA: Also, improper use of the word enormity bothers me.



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