As a conjunctive adverb, many people misuse the word “therefore.” You have probably heard others use the word in a myriad of ways, so how can you tell which is correct?
It is correct to say “and therefore” when using the phrase to join two independent clauses. In this situation, the word “and” is a coordinating conjunction, and you should precede it with a comma. You can also use “and therefore” to connect an independent clause with a phrase, but in this case, you won’t always put a comma before the word “and.”
We’ll take a closer look at the phrase “and therefore,” discuss what it means, and review how you can use it correctly.
What Does “And Therefore” Mean?
On its own, the meaning of the word “therefore” is synonymous with “consequently” or “as a result” (source). When we use the word “and” before the word “therefore,” we indicate a cause and effect relationship to our listeners or readers.
We typically begin a sentence by describing a particular cause or initial event. Then, when we add “and therefore,” we are effectively saying “and as a result.”
Yet, it would never make sense to end a sentence with “and therefore” because it would be an incomplete thought. So, you will need to complete the idea by briefly explaining what that effect, consequence, or result actually is in the words that follow “and therefore.”
Here is a short example:
- The children were bored, and therefore, they started acting out.
In this example, the phrase “and therefore” indicates that the children started acting out specifically because they were bored. You can use “and therefore” to indicate such cause-and-effect relationships.
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “And Therefore”?
You are using the phrase “and therefore” correctly if the phrase joins two independent clauses or if it joins an independent clause with a phrase. In either case, the ideas in each clause must logically relate to one another.
An independent clause includes a subject, a verb, and a complete thought (source). An independent clause can function as an entire sentence or as a part of a longer sentence.
Comparatively, a phrase includes a subject or a verb but not both. A phrase is also an incomplete thought. If you can accurately identify independent clauses and phrases, you will be able to check if you are punctuating your sentences properly.
It is also helpful to understand what a coordinating conjunction is and how it functions. As a review, a coordinating conjunction is a word that joins two grammatical elements of equal function or rank (source).
Combining Two Independent Clauses
Whenever we use a coordinating conjunction to combine two independent clauses, we must use a comma before the conjunction to separate the two main clauses.
Here are three examples:
- The children love to play soccer during recess, but the field is too wet today.
- The field is too wet today, and therefore the children spent recess inside.
Combining an Independent Clause With a Phrase
If you use “and therefore” to connect an independent clause with a phrase, you won’t always need a comma before the word “and.” This is because a comma is not always required to combine an independent clause with a phrase.
Here are two examples:
- The children had no rain boots and therefore ran back inside.
- The children had recess indoors and therefore played indoor games.
In these examples, “ran back inside” is a verb phrase that includes a verb but is missing a subject. Similarly, “played indoor games” is also a verb phrase that lacks a subject.
When you can identify the difference between clauses and phrases, you will gain stronger mastery over English punctuation rules. To understand more about the rules that govern commas, please check out the article “Comma After So: When Is It Applicable?”
Is It Correct to Say “So Therefore”?
Even though “so” is another coordinating conjunction, it is not correct to say “so therefore.” This is because of the redundancy of these two words, which both mean “as a result” or “consequently.”
You can correctly use the word “so” on its own as a coordinating conjunction to imply a cause-and-effect relationship. You can also correctly use the word “therefore” on its own as a conjunctive adverb to imply a cause-and-effect relationship. Let’s take a look at some examples.
- It started raining, so I opened my umbrella.
- It started raining; therefore, I opened my umbrella.
In each of these sentences, we can use either “so” or “therefore,” but not both. The cause and effect relationship is since it started raining (cause), I opened my umbrella (effect).
We can correctly communicate the relationship between these two ideas clearly by using “so” alone or by using “therefore” alone to avoid unnecessary repetition.
In What Context Can You Use “And Therefore”?
When you are using “and therefore,” you can apply it in your writing or in your verbal communication. It would not sound out of place in either context, as people use this phrase fairly often.
However, there is somewhat of a formal connotation to the word. Because of this, you might find that “and therefore” is more popular in more formalized or technical circumstances.
An example of this might be a business meeting where an employee discusses a specific cause-and-effect relationship. Here are two examples:
Profits have increased by 25% in 2022, and therefore we will continue our current marketing strategy.
The business was expanding exponentially and therefore was becoming a dominating force in the industry.
When Can You Use “And Therefore”?
You can use “and therefore” to articulate the results or consequences of a specific event or action.
As we’ve mentioned above, you can use “and therefore” to join two independent clauses or to join an independent clause with a phrase. Typically, you should explain the specific event or action (the cause) in the first part of the sentence. Then, you would need to state the results or consequences (the effect) in the second part of the sentence.
When you use “and therefore,” you are able to communicate the relationship between two ideas. Without “and therefore,” the relationship or connection is unclear. Here’s an example:
- It was a beautiful day out. The kids played soccer during recess.
Since these two independent clauses are not combined by “and therefore,” we have not clearly indicated a cause-and-effect relationship. These two ideas could be completely unrelated — the audience simply doesn’t know.
So, you can use “and therefore” when you need to clarify the relationship between two different ideas, particularly when it is a cause-and-effect relationship.
How Do You Use “And Therefore”?
You can place “and therefore” between two independent clauses or between an independent clause and a phrase. Whatever your sentence structure is, you will want to start with a situation or circumstance and end with a result or consequence.
For the sentence to be logical, the situation or circumstance should directly relate to the result or consequence. When you place “and therefore” in the middle of these two clauses, you are clearly indicating that the first idea in your sentence resulted in the latter idea.
Here are a few examples:
- We ran out of dog food, and therefore we had to stop at the store.
- She wanted to become a doctor and therefore had to take the MCAT exam.
- The football team had lost every game, and therefore their coach was fired.
Using “And Therefore” in a Full Sentence
When you use “and therefore” in a full sentence, you will need to ensure that you are using the phrase to connect two closely related ideas.
If you use “and therefore” to combine two independent clauses, you will need to include a comma before “and.” In the case that you are using “and therefore” to combine an independent clause with a phrase, you will likely not need a comma.
Let’s take a look at a few more examples. In the three examples immediately below, we use “and therefore” to combine two independent clauses.
- Her cat chewed through her phone charger, and therefore she had to buy a new one.
- The child dropped the glass vase, and therefore his mother had to clean up the mess.
- Reading is her favorite activity, and therefore she loves receiving new books.
Now let’s look at a few more examples where we use “and therefore” to link an independent clause with a phrase and, thus, do not need a comma.
- There was a violent storm and therefore no electricity.
- The house hadn’t been cleaned in months and therefore smelled terrible.
- Her shoes were of the highest quality and therefore were highly expensive.
When Not to Use “And Therefore”
You will want to avoid beginning a sentence with “and therefore.” Instead, you can start a sentence with the word “therefore” on its own when the sentence before is logically related to the sentence that starts with “therefore.”
It is not grammatically correct to begin a sentence with “and therefore.” However, you can simply remove the word “and” and begin the sentence with “therefore.” Let’s look at an example:
- The grocery store was out of cheddar. And therefore I had to go to the local market.
- The grocery store was out of cheddar. Therefore, I had to go to the local market.
- The grocery store was out of cheddar, and therefore I had to go to the local market.
What Can You Use Instead of “And Therefore”?
Some easy alternatives to the phrase “and therefore” are “as a result,” “consequently,” and “so.” Each of these phrases or words has a nearly identical meaning.
“So” is the most casual of the alternatives and is more appropriate in informal settings. Contrastingly, if you are looking to sound more professional and formal, “as a result” or “consequently” would be better choices.
In the examples below, we have applied the same core sentence structure to demonstrate how you can easily interchange these alternatives without changing the meaning of the sentence.
- She was bit by a dog as a child, and therefore she has a lasting fear of dogs.
- She was bit by a dog as a child; as a result, she has a lasting fear of dogs.
- She was bit by a dog as a child; consequently, she has a lasting fear of dogs.
- She was bit by a dog as a child, so she has a lasting fear of dogs.
Since “and therefore” and “so” are functioning as conjunctions to combine two independent clauses, we can set them off with a simple comma. “As a result” and “consequently” are functioning as conjunctive adverbs, so the punctuation requirements are a bit different.
In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at conjunctive adverbs and how to punctuate them.
“Therefore” is just one of the many conjunctive adverbs of the English language. You can use conjunctive adverbs to indicate the relationship between ideas within a clause, within a sentence, or between multiple sentences (source).
Usually, we use conjunctive adverbs between two independent clauses within a single sentence, or we begin a sentence with a conjunctive adverb to explain a connection to the sentence before.
In the table below, you will find examples of popular conjunctive adverbs and how to apply them within a sentence. Notice the punctuation patterns and how commas and semicolons offset conjunctive adverbs.
|Conjunctive Adverb:||Example Sentence:|
|Moreover||The psychology class fits her schedule perfectly; moreover, the professor is excellent.|
|However||She enrolled in the class; however, there is a waiting list.|
|Furthermore||Professor Adams has been teaching the class for over 15 years. Furthermore, he works in the field as a psychologist.|
|Therefore||They accepted her into the class; therefore, she needed to order the course textbook.|
|Consequently||She learned a lot from Professor Adams. Consequently, she completed the course with an A.|
Whether a conjunctive adverb is at the beginning of a sentence or in the middle of a sentence, its main function is to link ideas and indicate the relationship between those ideas. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
When we use a lone conjunctive adverb in the middle of a sentence, we must precede it with a semicolon to mark the end of the prior clause. We must also use a comma after the conjunctive adverb to separate the introductory word or phrase from the remainder of the second clause.
You can increase the clarity and quality of your communication by using conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs to indicate the relationships between your ideas. Whether your audience is listening to you speak or reading your written words, they will expect a logical flow of related ideas.
When you use the phrase “and therefore,” you can easily discuss cause-and-effect relationships and add complexity and variety to your sentence and paragraph structures.