This is a slightly tricky one – before I looked it up, I wasn’t sure what the difference was, and I would probably have used either of them in a sentence without thinking about it too much. And it turns out that one is preferable to the other, not that they mean different things. It’s nice that we all get to learn something from these posts!
Due to, used for “because of” (as opposed to “timed to” – “the train is due to arrive at eight”), is usually seen as being incorrect, according to my OUP reference books, which prefer “on account of”. I’m going to quote the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors here: “Due to: traditionally condemned as incorrect in the sense ‘because of’; on account of is a better alternative.” I don’t feel that we use on account of very much in common written or spoken English. So, maybe it’s best to stick to …
Owing to, which is defined as meaning “because of” or “on account of”.
So: use “because of” or “owing to” if you don’t want the good people of the OUP to think you’re incorrect!
“Owing to leaves on the line, and because of other issues with the track, this train, which is due to leave at eight, will not be departing on time.”
For more troublesome pairs, have a look on the category cloud or click here.