Grammar-ease: Hence, thus, and therefore

The title “Hence, Thus, and Therefore” could almost be the name of something Shakespearean, couldn’t it?

This month’s grammar tip is for Richard, who commented on last month’s post with an inquiry about using ‘hence’ and ‘therefore’. I went off and sought answers and found ‘thus’ part of the mix.

To start, all three are conjunctive adverbs. And there are similarities, depending on usage.

Hence means from this place: Away; from this time;  because of a preceding fact or premise: Therefore*.

  • We will reunite five years hence.
  • She won the talent competition, hence her good spirits.
  • They fell in love and hence they married.
  • She grew up in Florida, hence her familiarity with palmetto bugs.

Therefore means for that reason: Consequently; because of that; on that ground; to that end*. It directly relates to reasoning. The term even has its own symbol in mathematics relating to deductive reasoning.

  • I think, therefore I am.
  • She was early and therefore had to wait out in the cold.
  • He studied a lot, therefore making it easier for him to pass the test.
  • I win, therefore you lose.
  • He has a race tomorrow; therefore, he can’t stay out late tonight.

Thus means in this or that manner or way; to this degree or extend: So; because of this or that: Hence, Consequently; as an example*

  • The professor described it thus…
  • We’ve had quite a few examples thus far.
  • He studied a lot, thus making it easier for him to pass the test.
  • She’d always been corrected for proper grammar and thus always corrected others.

*Definitions taken from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 11th edition.

I’ve used ‘therefore’ in writing and conversation, but not ‘hence’ or ‘thus.’ Anyone else find the same is true? Or do you use ‘hence’ or ‘thus’ more than ‘therefore’?

*****

About Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson writer Lisa Jackson is an independent editor, writer, New England region journalist, and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to chat with best-selling authors, non-fiction writers, publishers, and other writing professionals on a weekly basis.

24 thoughts on “Grammar-ease: Hence, thus, and therefore

  1. I actually used “thus” at the end of a blog a few days ago. I sat there reading that, and wondered “where that came” from. I was summing up a brief result of my books character. Henceforth, I may study that and further usage issues.

  2. I use all three in conversation, to the disgruntlement of these “down home” folk around here in NWAlabama. I have ceased strangling myself over this old habit from when I lived and worked among primarily Ph.D. type folks. Not to sound snobbish, but long time habits are hard to break–and we must choose which battles to fight, right?

  3. I use them all, but ‘thus’ and ‘therefore’ more than ‘hence’. I’m a better writer than orator, though, so my speech tends to be either really informal or more like the written word than spoken.

  4. First of all, thank you for this interesting and informing post, it helped me a lot! Being a nativ German, only learning English as a foreign language, this was quiet hard for me to learn. So once I began to wonder about the usage of thus and hence I googled and found another post on a questioning site, saying that it depends on the tense of the sentence for example thus is only used with past etc. I wonder how far that’s correct so I’d be happy if you could check the 2nd answer by “Bianco” on the following link:
    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/ask-teacher/17458-when-use-word-thus-hence.html
    Yours, Laura =)

  5. Lisa,
    Your posts are great and useful.
    As a french native speaker, I think these words can be used to expres (or translate ) the French word “donc”. Unfortunately, I think I misused one of then once. To test my english, I’ve been told to compose an essay. I think I did it pretty well, but I used “hence” as a paragraph connector.
    Do you think that is a big mistake? I used it to link information explained in the prior paragraph and in the new one as a consequence.

  6. I use “therefore” a fair amount, and “thus” I use not too infrequently, but I can’t even remember the last time I used the word “hence”. Maybe I should start using it.

  7. I use all three in my writing and in conversation. I am from Ireland and the usage of hence is not uncommon here.

  8. It’s interesting Matt said that in Ireland ‘hence’ is not uncommon. I’m taking an Academic English course in Dublin and my teacher said that ‘hence’ sounds very old, he prefers ‘so’ to keep it simple, even when it comes to academic English!

  9. Great article Lisa! I’m a little ‘Thus’ (ed) out, the literature I often read is filled with it and thus, it is flogged to death and used in the most inappropriate place.

    It seems to me the word is used by individuals when they struggle to find a more suitable word.
    The word ‘Too’ is also used regularly to end a sentence and leaves the reader (me) hanging with nowhere to go!

    Bill

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