Back in the mists of time (at school), I remember having the difference between ‘owing to’ and ‘due to’ explained quite clearly. I raise the distinction because the shorter-to-print and quicker-to-say ’due to’ seems to be driving ‘owing to’ close to extinction. Have you seen many signs using ‘owing to’ recently?
My English teacher said that one way of helping decide which one to use is to substitute ‘owing to’ with ‘because of’ and to replace ‘due to’ with ‘caused by’.
The train was late owing to (because of) rain. Quite nice.
The train was late due to (caused by) rain. Not so nice.
The late arrival was due to (caused by) rain. Quite nice.
The late arrival was owing to (because of) rain. Not quite so nice.
Owing to (because of ) rain, the match was cancelled. Quite nice.
Due to (caused by) rain, the match was cancelled. Not nice.
Does it matter any more now that the expressions seem interchangeable? After all, using ‘due to’ doesn’t materially change the meaning. And as long as everyone knows what is meant, why go on about it?
I do so for the sake of a little more variety, a tad more elegance – and owing to an abiding affection for a great English teacher.