In order to know whether we’ve written an effective text, we can check its logical coherence, readability, and rhythm.
But, how can we achieve this?
Taking a closer look at some of the subtlest grammatical elements such as punctuation marks and transition words will make a difference.
So, we’ve customized a post covering these grammatical aspects. Hope this helps!
Do we need a comma after “therefore?”
A comma after “therefore” is placed when we are using it as an introductory element, a parenthetical remark, or when it appears after a semicolon. The after-comma, however, becomes optional when it causes a weak interruption or when we want to neutralize the tone of the text. Whereas, a comma after “therefore” makes the sentence ungrammatical when it functions either as a subject or object in the sentence.
The nuances behind “therefore” and why they matter
In our day-to-day interactions, we get confronted by mundane, haphazard informational inputs that are sometimes too complex to be fully understood.
Some of these include linguistic nuances that, although we often encounter, we still can’t figure out how and why they even exist in the first place.
Please don’t mind the poetic-ish explanation, as I am only pertaining to function words and punctuation marks.
First of all, I totally get that these two grammatical facets aren’t the most exciting concepts to tick out on our bucket list.
But, allow me to try to convince you as to why knowing a thing or two about commas and transition words matters more than what most people think.
Why do we need to learn about commas and transitional words?
The simple answer to this is to induce healthy information-sharing and consumption because language and culture are inseparable entities.
In other words, this means that the way people think and behave is heavily influenced by how we use language, no matter what field of discipline is involved.
Even the toughest ones like quantum physics and neuroscience are highly dependent on the invisible power of language.
We wouldn’t have learned about our own history if not for language per se, as it is the main reason why information has been passed on for generations.
So, learning how linguistic elements perform their job not only affirms our linguistic intelligence but also boosts our confidence in our linguistic output.
Getting a hang of these infinitesimal devices would facilitate healthy information-sharing, which is inarguably vital for future generations to come.
“Therefore” and how it behaves in sentences
Now that we’ve covered the nooks and crannies of this topic’s rationale, let’s also go over the transition word “therefore” in detail.
“Therefore” is a transition word that is categorized as a conjunctive adverb in English whose job is to introduce an argument that denotes a result or a conclusion.
As this is the case, it is expected that a preliminary proposition or premise exists before the statement using “therefore,” or at least somewhere nearby.
Conjunctive adverbs, also known as adverbial connectors, behave like conjunctions in such a way that they assist the logical and coherent flow of ideas in writing.
Words like hence, thereby, consequently, and thus are classified as conjunctive adverbs that denote resultative relationships too.
While conjunctions mainly link clauses, conjunctive adverbs are more flexible because they can tether shorter sentence elements like words and phrases.
“Therefore” is often used as an introductory element in a statement that is related to a previous claim, which is, again, called a premise.
The premise can be understood as the reason or at least a contributing factor that prompts the writer to create a remark introduced by “therefore.”
In a nutshell, “therefore” can be simply interpreted as “for this reason,” which is necessary for linking the gap of two closely-related ideas.
To understand better, let’s also try to have a glimpse of how to use “therefore” in sentences.
Using “therefore” in a sentence
The easiest way to use “therefore” is to place it at the beginning of the sentence or, put simply, using it as an introductory word.
Doing so entails the presence of an initial proposition that relates to the sentence introduced by “therefore.”
In the example above, not only does the second sentence indicate a resultative relationship to the premise.
It also suggests the necessity of an investigative approach towards understanding the issue at hand.
“Therefore” may also be found somewhere in the middle or towards the end of a single statement.
Apparently, the premise is embedded in the same sentence in this kind of structure as in the following example.
The sentence above ends with the adjective “advisable,” as opposed to completely writing “it is advisable.”
The use of “therefore” also helps in saving spaces apart from linking and demonstrating the relationship of the secondary claim to the premise.
The formality level of “therefore”
“Therefore” is generally expected to be used in the formal rather than the casual register due to its antiquated connotation.
It is a remnant of the Old English language, often found in legal and academic texts, and its usage has become much less popular compared to the 18th and 19th centuries.
This means that we have to use this word sparingly in casual discussions or at least replace it with less formal expressions instead.
While a teacher’s lecture may entail a lot of “therefores,” we may have to stick with “so” or “that’s why” in a coffee-break chat.
Since we’ve already covered the necessary details concerning “therefore,” let’s now move on to punctuation decisions.
The conditions that require a comma after “therefore”
Comma-decisions are often guided by grammatical conventions to increase textual readability and intelligibility.
However, it is also vital to understand that punctuation decisions may also be dependent on the writer’s stylistic choice and purpose.
Bearing these two notes in mind, let’s go over some grammatical conventions that guide the comma placement after “therefore.”
When “therefore” is used as an introductory remark
A comma is generally necessary to set off introductory remarks such as words, phrases, fragments, or even clauses in sentences.
This is done to provide initial context to the text’s audience, which also prompts them to take a pause to digest the information.
We need a comma after an introductory “therefore” especially when it introduces an argument at length.
Using a comma after “therefore” in the sentence above increases the textual clarity and gives the reader time to ponder on the relationship between the two arguments.
When “therefore” is used in a mid-sentence parenthesis
We may also place “therefore” in the middle of the sentence and make the transition more emphatic.
Adding emphasis to interruptive remarks is also another known function of commas, which is vital in increasing the force of the words being used.
When we want to amplify the force of “therefore” in the sentence, we can structure it in a way that it becomes a parenthetical remark.
Parenthetical remarks are set off with commas no matter where they appear in a sentence.
Hence, a comma after “therefore” is always necessary when it ends a parenthetical remark.
The parenthetical commas above signal the reader to pay attention to the resultative argument after “therefore,” resulting in the emphatic focus of the outcome.
When “therefore” is used after a semicolon
Lastly, we may also add a post-comma to “therefore” when it comes after a semicolon.
Semicolons bind two closely-related ideas together that may not be that well-represented when separated into two sentences.
To know more about semicolons, you may also check out our other post covering the mystery of semicolons here.
Here’s an example to illustrate the explained post-comma usage.
By simply looking at the heavily-constructed sentence above, innocently missing the comma after “therefore” is not a very good idea.
The optional comma after “therefore”
The previous section enumerated the grammatical conventions that prompt post-comma usage.
Meanwhile, this section also aims to explain the optional comma insertion, which is dependent on the writer’s discretion.
When “therefore” causes a weak interruption
Shorter sentences are generally less ambiguous than those written at length, so commas may not be that necessary in these situations.
In such cases, parenthetical interruptions may not essentially create any confusion to the reader, and thus, commas may be conveniently omitted.
This kind of decision may also be prompted by the reason that the comma may only make the sentence choppy and awkward to read.
Here’s how we can use an optional comma after “therefore” in a short sentence.
When the comma reduces the formality of the statement
By this point, you must have deduced that commas are used as tools to drive emphasis, as well as remove textual obscurity.
On that note, we can thereby infer that commas create a prosodic or rhythmic effect to the text.
Curiously enough, the rhythm also guides the tonality of the text, making the reader interpret it in either an affirmative or negative manner.
This suggests that commas, particularly when frequently used, may create content-related biases that are not advisable in the formal writing context.
Therefore, formal texts have to be constructed as neutrally as possible, which can be achieved by avoiding comma placements.
For these reasons, commas may be conveniently omitted by writers, especially in scholarly or legal articles to attain a more objective stance.
Here’s an example to illustrate that.
Also note that the example sentence above is ineffective and inappropriate when applied in enthusiastic, casual texts, not to mention dealing with beginner-level language learners.
We need not place a comma after “therefore” when…
Now that we have exhaustively covered the necessary and optional comma guidelines, it is also vital to know one last principle that dismisses the validity of the last two sections.
To holistically address the topic in this post, let’s look at the condition that makes the post-comma placement incorrect.
When using “therefore” as a noun
Since the word “therefore” is the topic in this post, it is expected that the word would be used as a noun throughout the text.
Nouns can function as subjects or objects in a sentence that do not necessitate comma placement unless there is a reason to do so.
It is true that a comma after a nominally-functioning “therefore” may nonetheless occur, for example, when it is followed by an appositive phrase or when it is used serially.
But, other than such mandatory cases, the post-comma placement would be incorrect.
The incorrect statement above may easily take place when textual bolding, italicizing, or grammar-checker tools are not in the writer’s options while writing.
Hence, the writer’s grammatical knowledge becomes extremely crucial in this kind of scenario.
Frequently Asked Questions on Comma After “Therefore”
Can we use “so therefore” together in a sentence?
The juxtapositional placement of “so” and “therefore” in a single statement is generally superfluous in the formal writing context as these two words serve a similar purpose. Unless we are trying to be intentionally poetic or humorous, this has to be avoided at all costs.
When should we not place commas before and after “therefore?”
The parenthetical commas before and after “therefore” may be conveniently omitted when we want to neutralize the tone of the text. Conversely, we can place the commas when we want to drive emphasis to the transitional word, as well as to the argument it introduces.
What is an example sentence using “therefore” after a semicolon?
We can structure the sentence this way when we are linking two closely-related arguments together in the sense that the holistic meaning will not be attained when separating them into two sentences as in “The squeaky wheel gets the grease; therefore, the other three are often taken for granted.”
Although transition words and punctuation marks superficially seem to be negligible linguistic elements, it took me nine pages to explain only one example for each.
Since practice makes perfect and books only serve as guides, therefore, you will still be the captain of your own ship and the pilot of your own plane.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.