Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Difference between 'Thus' and 'Therefore'

It's just me. Most writers and editors seem to accept the words as having one overlapping meaning: "consequently" or "for this reason" (with many seeming to prefer thus in most cases, likely because it's shorter). But I enforce a distinction, which I adopted from a very talented copy chief I once worked under:

Thus means "in this way"; therefore means "for this reason."

Thus was I educated when I was a young copy editor; therefore, I am sometimes accused of being persnickety.

Most dictionaries support these as primary definitions but acknowledge the overlap. I like keeping thus out of therefore's territory; distinctions like this allow writing to be more precise (in my opinion).

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