Comma After “Therefore” – Rules And Examples

04.05.24 Commas Time to read: 7min

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The influence of commas within the realm of punctuation has an important role in academic writing. Their importance is particularly profound, as they are crucial for maintaining clarity and facilitating proper communication. Commas introduce necessary pauses, convey intended meanings accurately, and separate distinct ideas. Therefore, understanding how to use them is not only about adhering to the rules, but also about enhancing readability and precision.

When to place a comma after “therefore”

There are three cases when a comma after “therefore” is needed, depending on its role in the sentence structure. When “therefore” is placed at the beginning of a sentence, it functions as an adverb and is followed by a comma to separate it from the main clause. This sentence construction indicates a result or conclusion drawn from information in previous sentences.

When the adverb “therefore” acts as a conjunction, also called adverbial conjunctions or conjunctive adverbs, amidst a sentence to connect two independent clauses, it is preceded by a semicolon and also followed by a comma. In this case, it implies a cause-and-effect relationship.

Furthermore, when “therefore” is used in the middle of a sentence but does not act as the main connector between two independent clauses, it is enclosed by commas to make a clear separation from the sentence. This is often the case, when “therefore” introduces a parenthetical element or an interruption to the flow of the sentence, acting as an intensifier.

It is less common to omit a comma after “therefore” but it is certainly appropriate in various contexts. When “therefore” acts as a direct connector between an action and a consequence, joining a dependent clause, and does not need a pause for clarification or emphasis, a comma is typically left out.

It is also appropriate not to set a comma after “therefore” when it is preceded by a conjunction and is part of a continuing clause. A special case, where a comma after it may be omitted, is in the context of mathematics or logical proofs. In these fields, “therefore” is typically used without a comma to imply a conclusion derived from the previous statements.

Comma

Introducing a sentence

Joining independent clauses

Parenthetical elements

No comma

Joining a dependent clause

Preceding conjunctions

Mathematical and logical proofs

In academic and formal writing, it is crucial to keep a consistent flow, to adhere to the standards of academic integrity, and keep your paper credible. Depending on the Style Guide, comma rules may vary; therefore, it is imperative to be mindful about placing commas in sentences and keep coherence and uniformity in your academic paper.

Comma after “therefore”

A comma after “therefore” is required when it stands in the initial place of a sentence, joins two independent clauses, and introduces parenthetical elements or interrupters.

Introducing a sentence

When “therefore” introduces a sentence, it functions as a transitional adverb, connecting the conclusion or result with the information that has been previously mentioned. In this position, “therefore” signals a cause-and-effect relationship, drawing a conclusion from preceding arguments. The following represent examples of the correct comma usage when “therefore” introduces sentences.

Examples

  • The tickets sold out within minutes. Therefore, we will look for other concerts.
  • He didn’t meet the deadline. Therefore, they worked extra hours to compensate.
  • The road was hazardous. Therefore, the school decided to close for the day.

Joining independent clauses

When “therefore” joins two independent clauses, it acts as a conjunctive adverb, meaning it illustrates the relationship between two independent statements. As it does not function as a direct connector like “and,” “but,” or “or,” it follows other punctuation rules than these coordinating conjunctions. To mark the end of the first independent clause, a semicolon is placed before “therefore” and a comma is placed after “therefore” before introducing the second independent clause. By this, the conjunctive adverb has a separation from the clauses.

Examples

  • It began to rain heavily; therefore, the outdoor event was moved indoors.
  • He studied hard for his exam; therefore, he passed with flying colors.
  • The project required funding; therefore, the team applied for several funds.

Parenthetical elements

When “therefore” introduces parenthetical elements in the middle of a sentence, it also acts as a conjunctive adverb, inserting a logical conclusion or inference as an aside within the broader context of a sentence. A parenthetical element that is introduced by “therefore” is typically set off by a comma before “therefore” and after to provide additional information without disrupting the main flow of the sentence. The examples below show how commas are placed correctly in this case.

Examples

  • The team, therefore, decided to postpone the project deadline.
  • The budget was reduced and, therefore, initiatives were put on hold.
  • The findings, therefore, suggest a need for further investigation.

No comma after “therefore”

A comma after “therefore” is typically omitted when it acts as a direct connector, is part of a dependent clause, is preceded by a conjunction, or is used for mathematical and logical proofs.

Joining a dependent clause

Being used as a direct connector, “therefore” links a dependent clause without a comma immediately after, as it is often part of a more integrated thought where the result is directly tied to the cause without an interruption like a parenthetical element. The absence of a comma after “therefore” implies an uninterrupted flow of logic from the cause to the effect. The subsequent examples provide a more profound understanding:

Examples

  • The company failed to meet its targets and therefore must reevaluate its strategy.
  • She didn’t submit her application on time and therefore can’t be considered.
  • He has all the required skills and is therefore the best candidate for the job.

Preceding conjunction

When a conjunction such as “but,” “and,” “so,” or “and” is followed by “therefore,” a comma is typically left out to indicate a seamless flow of the sentence, maintaining a smooth and direct connection between the linked clauses. Here are three examples demonstrating this comma use.

Examples

  • He was not prepared for the exam, so therefore he studied all night to catch up.
  • She knew the risks were high and therefore chose a more cautious approach.
  • The weather was cold, but therefore perfect for testing the new winter gear.

Mathematical and logical proofs

In mathematical and logical proofs, “therefore” is not followed by commas, as it indicates a conclusion drawn from the premises, emphasizing a direct and concise derivation of results. The following examples show the correct usage.

Examples

  • If all As are Bs and all Bs are Cs, then all As are Cs, therefore C is the correct answer.
  • x > 2 and x < 4, therefore x equals 3 when x is an integer.
  • The system shows no response at inputs below 5Hz; therefore it cannot operate.

Test yourself!

Practice sheet

Check whether you got the correct understanding of placing a comma after “therefore.” Fill in the commas in the sentences below and check your answers in the second tab.

  1. The team was over budget. Therefore cuts were necessary.
  2. The survey was inconclusive and therefore did not support the hypothesis.
  3. We received the raw materials late; therefore the production start was delayed.
  4. A equals B and B equals C; therefore A must equal C.
  5. It began to rain heavily. Therefore the event was moved indoors.
  6. The experiment, therefore was deemed a success.
  7. The software was outdated and therefore vulnerable to security breaches.
  8. The novel’s protagonist, therefore embodies the era’s societal contradictions.
  9. Our findings, therefore challenge the previously accepted theories.
  10. They have therefore decided to proceed with the alternative plan.
  1. The team was over budget. Therefore, cuts were necessary. (Comma)
  2. The survey was inconclusive and therefore did not support the hypothesis. (No comma)
  3. We received the raw materials late; therefore, the production start was delayed. (Comma)
  4. A equals B and B equals C; therefore A must equal C. (No comma)
  5. It began to rain heavily. Therefore, the event was moved indoors. (Comma)
  6. The experiment, therefore, was deemed a success. (Comma)
  7. The software was outdated and therefore vulnerable to security breaches. (No comma)
  8. The novel’s protagonist, therefore, embodies the era’s societal contradictions. (Comma)
  9. Our findings, therefore, challenge the previously accepted theories. (Comma)
  10. They have therefore decided to proceed with the alternative plan. (No comma)
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FAQs

When “therefore” acts as a conjunctive adverb in the middle of a sentence, it is also called a transitional expression or independent marker. In this case, a comma before and after “therefore” is due when it introduces a parenthetical element.

Yes, when “therefore” starts a sentence, it functions as an adverb, and a comma must be placed after it.

The following shows different cases of using “therefore” in a sentence:

Examples

  • He didn’t meet the deadline. Therefore, they worked extra hours to compensate.
  • He studied hard for his exam; therefore, he passed with flying colors.
  • The budget was reduced and, therefore, initiatives were put on hold.
  • She didn’t submit her application on time and therefore can’t be considered.
  • She knew the risks were high and therefore chose a more cautious approach.
  • x > 2 and x < 4, therefore x equals 3 when x is an integer.

It is only correct to place a comma after “therefore” in the cases when it is due. A semicolon is only placed before “therefore” when it links two independent clauses.