If we are to translate "contributed to" in "someone's arrogance and impulsion contributed to his failure," should I use 导致 or 促使?
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导 (lead) ; 致 (reach)
导致 = (lead to) cause
促 (induce); 使 (make)
促使 = (induce and make) to push
"someone's arrogance and impulsion contributed to his failure"
'contributed' means 'helped' -- '导致 (lead to)' and "促使 (push)" are two different form of 'helping' something to happen, therefore, 导致 or 促使 are both acceptable in "张三的自负和冲动导致/促使了他的失败。"
If you want a strict word to word translation, you can use '作出贡献', but '贡献' in Chinese only denote contribution to 'positive result' For example: "对社会作出贡献" (contribute to society); but you cannot say "对失败作出贡献" (contribute to failure) unless this negative result is a good thing, for example: "對纳粹滅亡作出贡献" (contributed to the destruction of the Nazis)
导致 and 促使 doesn't have this problem, they can be used to describe contribution to 'positive or negative result'
In this case, 助力 is better to interpret "contribute to". 导致 and 促使 imply that arrogance and impulsion are the sufficient condition to lead to his failure. Well, "contribute to" doesn't imply a sufficient condition. In other words, his arrogance and impulsion are not the only reason to lead to his failure.
"someone's arrogance and impulsion contributed to his failure," // 张三的自负和冲动助力了他的失败。