à cause de/grâce à

What’s the difference between grâce à and à cause de?

The phrases grâce à and à cause de can be confusing for French learners because they look are so similar; they are both followed by a noun and introduce a reason or cause. Read on to learn when to use grâce à and à cause de, then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

Example

Nora appelle un taxi pour aller à la gare. Elle est en retard à cause d’une réunion qui a duré plus longtemps que prévu et elle a peur de rater le train.

Mais grâce au gentil chauffeur, elle arrivera à temps.

à cause de

The phrase à cause de is similar to the English phrase because of; it introduces a reason or a cause.

It mostly has a negative meaning; the reason or cause it explains usually produces an unfortunate result.

Sometimes it has a neutral meaning.

Example:
Nora est en retard à cause d’une réunion qui a duré plus longtemps que prévu.Nora is running late because of the meeting that went on for much longer than planned.

The result (Nora is running late) is negative.

grâce à

The phrase grâce à is similar to the English phrase thanks to; it introduces a reason or a means.

It has a positive meaning; it expresses a reason or cause that produces a happy result.

Example:
Grâce au gentil chauffeur, Nora arrivera à temps.Thanks to a kind driver, Nora will arrive on time.

The result (Nora will be on time) is positive.

To learn about some other confusing word pairs in French, check out our pages on en/dans and encore/toujours.