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What is the difference between "由于" and "因为"?

For example, what is the difference between

由于今天是公共假期,我不需要上学。

and

因为今天是公共假期,我不需要上学。

Thanks.

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I think there is no difference between "由于" and "因为". They can replace each other. –  Isaac Apr 14 at 12:55
    
No, they can't be used interchangeably. See Question Overflow's answer. –  deutschZuid Apr 14 at 23:09
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

由于 means "due to" or "because of".
因为 means "because".

There are also some differences in usage too,

  • 由于 is usually placed at the beginning of a sentence

    由于天气恶劣,飞机被迫折返梳邦机场降落。
    Due to the bad weather, the plane is forced to turn back to land at Subang Airport.

  • 因为 can be used where the cause is stated following the effect

    我不需要上学,因为今天是公共假日。
    I don't need to go to school because today is a public holiday.

  • 因为 can be used in conjunction with 所以

    因为今天是公共假日,所以我不需要上学。
    Because today is a public holiday, therefore I don't need to go to school.

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Lol remembered you from last time. –  chris97ong Apr 14 at 13:02
1  
I downvoted this answer, for the following reasons. (1) While 由於 is usually placed at the beginning of a sentence, sometimes it is not. Example: 《朱光潛全集》:「這是由於我的顧慮,膽怯,不誠實。」(2) The example "我不需要上学因为今天是公共假日" is grammatically incorrect, because there is no comma after 我不需要上学. (3) While many (if not most) Chinese speakers nowadays write 因為…所以, strictly speaking, this is a bad habit and the word 所以 is actually unnecessary. –  user4086 Apr 16 at 1:54
4  
@user1551, I am glad you take the time to write down the reason for downvote. I stand corrected for (1) and (2). But I disagree with (3), 所以 serves as a conjunction between two parts of a sentence, without which, the sentence would appear disjointed. –  Question Overflow Apr 16 at 6:03
1  
@user1551 Neither I, nor the author of this post, has said "所以" following "因為" should be a must. The "standard" I meant was, "因為...所以" wouldn't be deemed as ill-formed or ungrammatical by any formal standard. And many opinions of 陳雲 are controversial, you know. (Very personally, I dislike linguistic purism.) Anyway, even you haven't considered "因為...所以" wrong, that would be the consensus we can reach. –  Stan Apr 17 at 9:24
1  
@Stan and Question Overflow: Thx for the inputs. Technically speaking, that 3rd bullet point is wrong, not because "因為...所以" is incorrect, but because it implies that "由于...所以" is invalid. Yet, you can also find the latter one in 胡適's articles, or webpages written by contemporary Chinese speakers. At any rate, while Question Overflow doesn't suggest that 因為 must be followed by 所以, I do think the use of such a language construct should be discouraged. Avoidance of linguistic purism doesn't mean unconditional acceptance of poor language usages, but I understand that we can't convince each other. –  user4086 Apr 20 at 8:47
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Nice question and a trick question. Their differences are very subtle.

因为是表示做过的事情 或做某件事、产生某种结果的缘由 所以是描述“因为”的内容而客观发生的事实,即“怎么了”。 由于是表示某种东西或动作 因此是表示针对之前做过的或发生的某件事做出的反应,即“所以就”

例如:因为他昨天乱吃东西,所以他生病了。
如今,由于学生早恋问题严重,因此各校对此均表示坚决抵制。

or if you want a more linguistic approach

“因为”和“由于”既是介词,也是连词,都用在因果复句中,表示原因和理由,有时可以互换。如“因为情况发生了变化,工程计划有所调整”可以写成“由于情况发生了变化,工程计划有所调整”。但是,两者的用法又有一些差别,有些情况只能用“因为”不能用“由于”,有些情况则只能用“由于”而不能用“因为”。它们用法上的差别主要表现在三个方面。
一是搭配不同。“因为”主要跟“所以”一起使用,不能与“因此”、“因而”搭配;“由于”除了跟“所以”一起使用以外,还可以跟“因此”、“因而”搭配。例如“由于他工作努力,因此常得到领导赞扬”不能写成“因为他工作努力,因此常得到领导赞扬”。例三和例四的问题就属于搭配不当的问题。
二是位置不同。“因为”可以用在后一个分句,补充说明原因;“由于”引出的原因分句,不能倒装在表结果的分句后面。例如“你要早点儿休息,因为明天还要早起赶车”不能写成“你要早点儿休息,由于明天还要早起赶车”。例一和例二的问题是“由于”的位置放置不当。
三是答问不同。“因为”可以用在说明原因的答话的开头来说明原因,“由于”则不能放在答问句的前头引导答问。例如“为什么要提倡电解铝在冶炼过程中实现合金化?因为这样做避免了铝锭二次重熔,可以节省能耗并减少金属烧损”不能写成“为什么要提倡电解铝在冶炼过程中实现合金化?由于这样做避免了铝锭二次重熔,可以节省能耗并减少金属烧损”。

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