to and owing to are similar in meaning to on account
of and because of. They are all prepositions used with
noun phrases and are often used interchangeably. They indicate that
something happened as a result of something or introduce the reason
for something happening:
'He was kept in after school due to/owing to his bad
behaviour.' = He was kept in after school on account of/because
of his bad behaviour.
'Due to/owing to a broken propeller, the new cruise liner
returned immediately to port.' = 'The new cruise liner returned
immediately to port because of/on account of a broken propeller.'
used to be thought that it was incorrect to use due to in
this way, but modern usage shows no hesitation in using these expressions
that these prepositions are sometimes used in cleft structures with
it and the verb to be:
'It is due to/on account of all his hard work over the
winter months that he has passed the exam with such a good grade.'
'It was owing to/because of traffic congestion on the
road leading to the airport that I missed my flight.'
noun phrases which these prepositions introduce are often rather formal
and it may be more natural to use because in informal, conversational
English. But remember that because is a conjunction and must
therefore be used to introduce a subordinate clause of reason:
'We had to give up the idea of a boat trip because it
started to pour with rain.'
'Owing to the heavy rain, we had to give up the idea
of a boat trip.'
In this final owing to example, there is a mismatch of formal
and colloquial styles and it does not sound quite right. In the following
examples, however, the prepositional phrase might be preferred as
it is more succinct:
'Why are you so late?' 'On account
of the traffic. Incredibly heavy!'
'Why are you so late?' 'Because
the traffic was so incredibly heavy on the road into London. '