Get Thee Hence!

I’ve noticed people using “hence” to mean “therefore” quite a bit lately, and to me the tone seemed a bit hoity-toity, as if the authors wished to appear intellectual. Usually, hence means “away from this place,” but like its old world brothers “thence” and “whence,” it can be used in a line of reasoning to come to a conclusion.

Here are some common definitions:
hence = away from here (this place or source), from this time on, from this reasoning
thence = from that place, from that time on, from that fact or circumstance
whence = from where, from what source or cause, by reason of which fact

Note that the expression “from whence” would mean “from from where,” which would be repetitively redundant.
Bad Example:                    I told him he should go back from whence he came.
Corrected Example:         I told him he should go back whence he came.

There are some old world cousins that act as opposites of hence, thence, and whence. These words, which have a “to” direction rather than a “from” direction, are rarely used:
hither = to this place, here             Example:  She gave him a “come hither” look.
thither = to that place, there           Example:  The children ran hither, thither and yon.
whither = to where; to what place   Example:  He knows not whither he goes.

How shall we remember this?  I ran across a nifty table that brings it all together

here     hither              from here       hence
there    thither            from there      thence
where  whither           from where    whence

So when should we use “hence” in a line of reasoning, and when should we use
“therefore,” and can we use “thus” instead of either of them?

Use “hence” when you mean “Therefore, from this point forward.”
Example:  Hence, we will proceed with the original casing plan.

“Therefore” means “for this reason, consequently, or because of this or that.” Use it when you want to explain WHY something happened.
Example:  The hole washed out, therefore we shouldn’t rely on the log data.

“Thus” means “in this manner or in that way.” Use it when you want to explain HOW something happened.
Example:  The rate of circulation was increased; thus, the drill bit became unstuck, and we were able to reach TD.

Sage Advice of the Day: (from my dog Pepper)

Wag more; bark less.


2 Responses to “Get Thee Hence!”

  1. Neill. Says:

    as a dyslexic i found this most useful, thank you! 🙂

  2. Lilla B. Saary Says:

    Many thanks, as a fan of ‘ancient-sounding text’ and someone currently preparing for my high level exam, this was truly useful material to me.

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