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How to find a cause and effect in a story?

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Quick Answer

An effective way to bolster comprehension of cause and effect in a story is to search for actual cause and effect words within the text. For example, the bracketed words "if...then" usually indicate a causal relationship and explicitly outline a series of actions.

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Further signal words for the reader to look out for include "because," 'since," "hence," "thus" and "therefore." Some signal words or phrases address time relationships more explicitly, such as "afterwards," "later," "next" and "then." Readers are also encouraged to link cause and effect to basic question words. Particularly, students should be able to ask "what" happened in a specific story and then ask "why."

To further enhance reading comprehension of cause and effect, parents can play games outside of formal reading. For instance, a parent can ask the child what might happen if a Popsicle were placed in the sun and why that outcome is likely. Similarly, the barking of the family dog could be linked to the ringing of a doorbell. In short, applying and developing these analytical skills in everyday life situations may yield increased performance when transferred to the domain of reading. Furthermore, increased understanding of cause and effect in literary environments may also prove enabling in the study of mathematics and science, suggests Reading Rockets.

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