Is It “Therefore” or “Therefor”?
- The word you’re most likely looking for is therefore which means “for that reason” or “because of that.” Therefor is an antiquated word that is mostly only found in legal texts and means “in return for that.”
- ○ I badly sprained my ankle, and therefore I’ll be wearing a walking boot for four weeks.
- ○ We trade services. She does my nails and I cut her hair therefor.
Therefor vs. Therefore
I think therefore I am.
You’ve probably heard this timeless quote by René Descartes at least once or twice before. But did you know that Descartes had trouble differentiating between therefore and therefor?
We’re just kidding. But we wouldn’t blame him if these words did cause him some confusion. Yes, they’re homophones and yes, they are spelled almost the exact same way. However, one is much more common than the other and they have different meanings.
Below, we’ll go over therefore and therefor (and their proper punctuation).
“Therefore”— Spelling and Meaning
Therefore is the most common of the homophones and probably the word you’ll want to use.
It’s an adverb that means “because of that” or “consequently.” It presents the cause-and-effect relationship between two independent clauses. It can also be used as a conjuctive adverb, which means it connects two independent clauses
The roads were icy, and therefore I was scared to drive.
The taxi got a flat tire. Therefore, we missed our flight.
I have messed up many presentations; therefore, I am nervous about this one.
How To Properly Punctuate “Therefore”
You should be aware that there are a few different ways to punctuate a sentence that includes the conjunctive adverb therefore. We’ll review them here.
It was raining therefore we couldn’t leave on time.
The sentence above doesn’t have correct punctuation. You can fix it by adding a comma with “and,” using a semicolon to separate the clauses, or starting a new sentence.
It was raining, and therefore we couldn’t leave on time.
It was raining; therefore we couldn’t leave on time.
It was raining. Therefore, we couldn’t leave on time.
Keep in mind that any time you start a sentence with “therefore,” it must be followed with a comma.
Another thing worth pointing out is that therefore is usually found at the beginning of clauses (as shown in the examples above). This differs from therefor, which is almost always found at the end of sentences.
LanguageTool is a multilingual spelling and grammar checker that can assist you with proper punctuation. Not only will it provide suggestions on punctuating sentences that contain the word therefore, but it can also suggest stylistic improvements like detecting when too many exclamation points have been used or when a comma is missing.
It’s the best writing assistant available, and therefore you should give it a try.
“Therefor”— Spelling and Meaning
Chances are you won’t need to use the word therefor, unless you’re often exposed to legal jargon. Besides that, you probably won’t come across this word in everyday speech or writing.
Therefor is also an adverb, and it means “for or in return for that,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
I returned the damaged item and received store credit therefor.
I returned the damaged item and received store credit in return for that.
Aside from the placement in sentences, another major difference between therefore and therefor is that the latter isn’t used as a conjunctive adverb. In other words, it never connects clauses.
To Recap Therefore vs. Therefor
- Therefore is much more common than therefor, and therefore it’s most likely the word you’ll want to use in your writing.
- Therefore is a conjunctive adverb that means “for that reason.”
- Therefor is also an adverb, but cannot function as a conjunctive adverb. It means “in return for that.”
- LanguageTool is an advanced writing assistant that can help you properly use and punctuate therefore and therefor.