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Question
Dear Ted,

My question is about the word - “therefore” and about the classification - “conjunctive adverb”.

Can you please tell me if the word “therefore” is an “adverb” or if this word is a “conjunctive adverb” or if this word is classified as both?

Can you also please help me to understand what is meant by “conjunctive adverb”.  


Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich:

My question is about the word - “therefore” and about the classification -
“conjunctive adverb”.

Can you please tell me if the word “therefore” is an “adverb” or if this word is
a “conjunctive adverb” or if this word is classified as both?

Can you also please help me to understand what is meant by “conjunctive adverb”.  

*** THEREFORE is ALWAYS an adverb.  It means "consequently" or "for that reason" or "to that end."

EXAMPLES:  I had a difficult exam to take on Friday morning.  I, therefore, chose not to attend the fraternity party on Thursday night.

The cell phone is thin and light and therefore very convenient to carry around  [Note:  Some grammarians prefer to enclose "therefore" in commas.  That is my preference, but there are just as many grammarians who think that commas are overused, and they would omit using commas in my examples.  I just don't like the looks of "I therefore chose."]

*** CONJUNCTIVE ADVERBS are ALWAYS adverbs, even though they function as CONJUNCTIONS.  Think of them as "adverbs that join together two equal elements.

Conjunctive adverbs cannot be used alone.  Something that comes before them is joined to something that comes after them.  It would be "odd" to begin a sentence with a conjunctive adverb.  Many years ago, I participated in an acting group that performed short skits, called
"blackouts."  At the end of one skit, all the lights were turned out for a few seconds.  When the lights came back on, an actor [he was dressed as a minister] stood at the podium and began by saying, "HOWEVER."  That was the end of the skit.  It was funny because you cannot use a conjunctive adverb to join nothing to nothing.

One of the "old" rules to which I still adhere is the punctuation of a conjunctive adverb. It is always PRECEDED by a semi-colon and FOLLOWED by a comma.

EXAMPLES:

I think; therefore, I am.

The weather forecast called for extreme storms with high winds and hail; therefore, the two schools agreed to cancel the football game.

Payment was received two weeks after it was due; therefore, you will be charged a late fee.

Rich, take note that the two elements involved in each of my three examples above are INDEPENDENT CLAUSES.  What is to the left of the conjunctive adverb must be equal to what is written to the right of it.  EQUALITY.

Let's look at the first example I gave of "therefore" as a plain adverb:  I had a difficult exam to take on Friday morning.  I, therefore, chose not to attend the fraternity party on Thursday night.

Now, I will change the adverb to a conjunctive adverb:

I had a difficult exam to take on Friday morning; therefore, I chose not to attend the fraternity party on Thursday night.  [An independent clause before "therefore" and another independent clause after "therefore."

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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