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Expression of cause: "Благодаря" and "Из-за"

Probably, you have already known, if we want to explain something, we use the conjunctions ПОТОМУ ЧТО, ОТТОГО ЧТО (because). Before we turn to alternative ways of cause description, I would like to explain here the punctuation in the usage of these compound conjunctions, because students ask these questions from time to time. As the previous sentence shows, the most common case is when we write comma before the conjunction. But there are also cases, when comma separates the conjunction. Look at these two examples.

За границей мы чувствуем себя комфортно, потому что знаем иностранные языки - We feel ourselves comfortable abroad, because we know foreign languages.
За границей мы чувствуем себя комфортно, возможно, потому, что знаем иностранные языки - We feel ourselves comfortable abroad, probably, because we know foreign languages.

Well, most often, when a sentence includes a parenthetical word (ВОЗМОЖНО - perhaps, МОЖЕТ БЫТЬ - maybe, etc), the conjunction is separated by a comma. A parenthetical word is separated - according to the rules.

At the same time, a compound conjunction can also be separated - it depends on the intonation. Let's say, to write comma in order to show the pause.

Now let's look at the alternative of the conjunction ПОТОМУ ЧТО (because). These are the conjunctions БЛАГОДАРЯ (thanks to) and ИЗ-ЗА (because of), which have the same meaning as ПОТОМУ ЧТО (because), but are used in other situations and grammar structures.

We use БЛАГОДАРЯ [blagadarya] to show a positive cause. Something that is useful.

The structure with a noun:

БЛАГОДАРЯ (thanks to) + noun in Dative case

The structure with a verb or the word "eсть" (remember, we often omit the word "есть", although we imply it):

БЛАГОДАРЯ ТОМУ, ЧТО + phrase describing the positive effect.

Благодаря родителям я закончил университет - Thanks to my parents, I have graduated from the university.
Благодаря хорошей погоде мы смогли устроить пикник - Thanks to a nice weather, we could make a picnic.
Она сдала экзамен благодаря хорошей подготовке - She passed the exam thanks to a good preparation.
Благодаря тому, что на юге много солнца, там растут фрукты - Because of plenty of the sun rays on the south, there are a lot of fruits there.
Благодаря тому, что у нас есть машина, мы можем путешествовать - We can travel a lot because we have a car.
Я умею играть на фортепиано благодаря тому, что училась в музыкальной школе - I can play the piano, because I have studied at the music school.

We use ИЗ-ЗА (due to), when we want to express negative connotation - something that has caused harm or prevented from getting result.

Structure with a noun.

ИЗ-ЗА (due to) + noun in genitive case.

The structure with a verb or the word "eсть"

ИЗ-ЗА ТОГО, ЧТО + phrase describing a negative effect.

Из-за плохой погоды мы остались дома - Due to a bad weather, we stayed at home.
Из-за болезни он оставил работу - Due to illness, he jacked up his job.
Мы опоздали из-за пробок на дорогах - We were late due to traffic jam.
Из-за того, что профессор был строг, многие завалили* экзамен - Due to professor's strict attitude, most failed the exam.
Мой друг не смог поехать с нами из-за того, что сильно заболел - My friend could not go with us because he had got sick.

Be attentive, the choice of conjunction does not depend on words or phenomena out of context which are considered to be positive or not. All depends on a situation and result.

Благодаря тому, что лето было очень дождливое, в лесу много грибов - Because of the rainy summer, there are a lot of mushrooms in a forest.
Из-за того, что лето было очень дождливое, увеличилось количество аварий на дорогах - Due to rainy summer, the number of car accidents has been risen.

*Завалить экзамен - to fail an exam, to get a low grade.

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