How to Use Therefore in a Sentence

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  • 0:03 Therefore: Meaning
  • 1:39 Use as a Conjunctive Adverb
  • 2:45 Run-On Sentences
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
'Therefore' is an important word that is sometimes misused in a sentence. When used correctly, it can impress your reader. When used incorrectly, it can make your reader lose interest. In this lesson, you'll learn how to use 'therefore' correctly.

Therefore: Meaning

You're on a dream date and truly want to impress your companion, but you can't think of anything interesting to say. Suddenly, out of the blue, you remember something one of your teachers once said in a class: René Descartes, a famous French philosopher, said, 'I think, therefore I am.' You're not sure what it means, but it certainly does sound impressive! Your date asks you what that statement means, but you have no idea. Busted! Your date gets up and leaves.

'Therefore' means for that reason or cause, thus, consequently, or hence.

Many people think 'therefore' sounds like old English or something Shakespeare would say. It also sounds like a word you would use in a legal document or important academic paper. However, 'therefore' should not be used too often, if at all. Too many 'therefores' can make your writing look weak and unimpressive. In fact, it is almost never used in informal speech. However, when used correctly, 'therefore' is a powerful word that can impress your reader.

For example, 'She has responded positively to the medicine; therefore, I recommend we forego the surgery.'

Wow! That statement does sound powerful, but what does it actually mean? Well, because of the medicine, a doctor's patient is doing better and no longer requires surgery. When you use 'therefore,' it means because of this, something happened or can happen.

Use as a Conjunctive Adverb

'Therefore' is a conjunctive adverb, a word that modifies a verb. For instance, let's imagine a school that has spent all of its budgeted money for the year and needs help from the city council:

  • The school is running out of money; therefore, it is important that we pass a new funding bill.

Because the bill was passed, the school stayed open.

  • The city council passed the funding bill, therefore keeping the school open.

In this sentence, 'therefore' is functioning in this sentence as 'thus,' not a conjunction, which is a word that connects sentences.

Because the school stayed open, the senior class could graduate.

  • The school received the additional money. Therefore, the senior class was able to graduate on time.

Be careful here. 'Therefore' is not a conjunction, a word that connects sentences. However, because it's often confused as one, it can cause problems, especially with run-on sentences. Let's look at how to avoid this problem.

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