Comma Before or After “Therefore”: The Ultimate Guide (12 Examples)

Double commas are something that comes up quite a lot to separate sentences and clauses in English. It’s essential to understand the rules associated with them, so let’s look at whether there’s a comma after therefore, as well as before it.

Should There Be A Comma Before Or After Therefore?

There should be a comma before and after “therefore” when used in the middle of a sentence as an interrupter. We do it to emphasize the inclusion of “therefore” while also showing that it’s additional information. The sentence would make sense even without “therefore” in it.

Should There Be A Comma Before Or After Therefore?

You can sometimes leave “therefore” without any commas or other punctuation. We’ll explain more about that in the following sections.

Is Therefore Always Followed By A Comma?

While commas before and after “therefore” are mostly commonplace, it doesn’t always need to be the case. It’s not a distinct rule and only applies when “therefore” is added as extraneous information (you can remove the word without changing the sentence).

  • He, therefore, knew what he needed to do.
  • He knew what he needed to do.

These two sentences show what we mean by including “therefore” in a sentence with a comma after it. While “therefore” doesn’t strictly change anything about the sentence’s meaning, and we can remove it, it is still used to emphasize the point being made (and often links to something previously stated in another sentence).

Sometimes, we can start a sentence with “therefore,” like:

  • I’ve done this many times before. Therefore I knew what I was doing.

Here, we don’t need to include a comma after “therefore” because we’re simply saying the reason. Generally, it will link directly to the sentence before, as you can see above. It’s worth mentioning that we can include a comma after “therefore” in the sentence above, and it would still be grammatically correct.

  • I’ve done this many times before. Therefore, I knew what I was doing.

If we use “therefore” in the middle of a sentence to interrupt it, it’s appropriate to include a comma to separate the two clauses we’re using. However, if we use it at the beginning, as seen above, we don’t always need the comma – it’s more preference here than anything else.

Is There A Comma Before Therefore?

What about the comma before “therefore?” Well, since we can’t include a comma before the start of the sentence, that makes the point above about starting a sentence with “therefore” irrelevant. We, instead, have to look at using “therefore” in the middle of a sentence.

When working with two closely linked clauses, we still have to break up the sentence with commas. That means a comma has to come directly before and directly after “therefore” when used in the middle of a sentence.

  • We, therefore, don’t need your help.

Since this phrase isn’t split up into two separate clauses, we can use a comma before “therefore” and after it. If we removed “therefore” from the sentence, it would still make sense. That’s how we know when to use commas. They almost act like parentheses, where the information inside it can be omitted from the sentence and still be clear.

There’s one other exception to this comma before “therefore” rule, though. That applies when the two clauses we’re working with aren’t directly connected and are used as standalone sentences instead.

  • I slept for a long time, therefore, I feel rested.

The example above is grammatically incorrect. If we removed “therefore” as we’ve mentioned above, we would end up with:

  • I slept for a long time I feel rested.

That sentence doesn’t make sense. However, if we put a full stop in the middle (between “time” and “I”), it would. That’s how we know we’re working with two separate clauses.

In the case of two separate clauses, “therefore” is used as a conjunction. That means it has to have a semi-colon before it (and a comma after it) for the sentence to make sense.

  • I slept for a long time; therefore, I feel rested.

The above sentence is the correct way to use it if it’s a conjunction. Always remember that semi-colon; otherwise, we’re not allowing for enough of a sentence break.

How Do You Punctuate Therefore? (Step-By-Step Guides)

Okay, it would be useful to know how to punctuate “therefore” correctly every time you use it. We thought we’d include a step-by-step guide that’ll teach you the ropes.

Initially, you’ll want to refer to this to make sure you get the rules right. After a while, you should get more comfortable and be ready to dive into using “therefore” without our help!

1. No Comma

Let’s first look at the rules associated with using no commas before or after “therefore.”

  1. You must intend to start the sentence with “therefore;” otherwise, move on to one of the later headings.
  2. “I headed out.”
  3. When starting the sentence with “therefore,” check whether you need to emphasize the word; if you do not, no further action needs to be taken.
  4. “Therefore I headed out.”

2. Comma After Therefore

Now we’ll use “therefore” at the beginning of a sentence, but this time with a comma coming after it.

  1. You must intend to start the sentence with “therefore” again.
  2. I went to bed.
  3. Include “therefore” in the sentence structure.
  4. “Therefore I went to bed.”
  5. If you believe more emphasis is needed, include the comma to interrupt the sentence and show this.
  6. “Therefore, I went to bed.”

3. Comma Either Side Of Therefore

Next up, we’ll show you when “therefore” is used as an interrupt (not a conjunction). In this case, we’ll use commas on both sides of it.

  1. Check your sentence structure and flow.
  2. “It was an early morning tomorrow. I needed to get to sleep.”
  3. Put “therefore” in the sentence as an interrupt. It should always come after a pronoun if you want to use it in this way.
  4. “It was an early morning tomorrow. I therefore needed to get to sleep.”
  5. Remove “therefore” from the sentence to double-check that it still makes sense. If it does, include a comma on either side of it to indicate this.
  6. “It was an early morning tomorrow. I, therefore, needed to get to sleep.”

4. Semi-Colon And Conjunction Rules

If we’re using “therefore” as a conjunction, it means we’re connecting two unrelated sentences or clauses.

  1. Check your sentences to make sure they’re closely related.
  2. “It was a complicated exam. I don’t think I passed.”
  3. Remove the period and put “therefore” in between both phrases.
  4. “It was a complicated exam therefore I don’t think I passed.”
  5. Put commas on either side of “therefore” to use it as an interrupt.
  6. “It was a complicated exam, therefore, I don’t think I passed.”
  7. Remove “therefore” to check whether the sentence makes sense on its own.
  8. “It was a complicated exam I don’t think I passed.”
  9. If it doesn’t, include a semi-colon before “therefore” and change it to a conjunction.
  10. “It was a complicated exam; therefore, I don’t think I passed.”

Those are the four main ways you’ll see the punctuation rules associated with using “therefore.” The hardest ones to get right will be using it as a conjunction and using it as an interrupt. Over time, you’ll get more familiar with the two rules and hopefully start to understand when each form works in your writing without having to refer back to these guides.

Remember that as an interrupt, it comes after a pronoun to break up a sentence quickly (while adding emphasis). As a conjunction, it comes in the middle of a sentence between two clauses that won’t make sense without a connecting word.

How Do You Use Therefore In A Sentence (Punctuation Examples)

We believe that the best way to learn about punctuation is to see some examples. Examples help us understand language rules a little more clearly, so we’ll run you through a selection of them, trying to use all of the punctuation rules we can.

  • I needed to go to the shops. Therefore I headed out.
  • We were out of milk. Therefore I went to the shops.
  • She shouldn’t have gone to school today. Therefore I went to pick her up early.
  • It was getting late. Therefore, I went to bed.
  • Time was of the essence. Therefore, I couldn’t wait any longer.
  • The school was out for the summer! Therefore, I made the most of my summer vacation.
  • I, therefore, knew what I needed to do.
  • He, therefore, made sure that it wouldn’t happen again.
  • She, therefore, didn’t want anyone to follow her.
  • It can’t happen again; therefore, I’ll include more rules to stop it.
  • We went to the cinema; therefore, we saw that movie already!
  • You should go to the restaurant with me; therefore, I can show you how delicious it is!

We include each of the four main punctuation rules that you can compare to above. Try and follow the step-by-step guides for each one as you read them to try and understand why we used the punctuation the way we did! It’ll help you further your understanding.

You might also like: