Recently, I came across a dictionary entry that describes the use of the word "hence" as an adverb citing an example:

"His mother was an Italian, hence his name - Luca."

If I replace the word "hence" with another adverb "so", what I get is:

"His mother was an Italian, so his name is Luca."

Obviously, the auxiliary verb "is" is missing, when the adverb hence is used which sounds counter- intuitive to me, since the clause is not complete. Is this usage grammatically correct and possible? Or is this a pattern established through the time? Besides, I would be happy if anyone makes me know whether any other adverbs are used in the same grammatical style.

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    I suspect your question will be closed and moved to English Learners. Also consider “thence”. For example: Spain has a climate suitable for citrus fruit. Thence (= from there) we obtain many oranges. Also research “whither” and “hither”.
    – Anton
    Feb 11, 2023 at 14:27
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    I think this is largely a matter of opinion. Hence can be used like an adposition, as in "four years hence" or as here; there is debate about the similar ago, and words like given and regarding which are also sometimes adposition-like, so I don't think you'll get a authoritative answer for hence. But it's grammatical.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 11, 2023 at 14:55
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    This really does illustrate the unhelpfulness of the traditional POS collection, with 'adverb' essentially meaning 'words that modify a verb. Oh, or an adjective, or another adverb. Oh, or a complete clause. Oh, or ...' ... a dustbin class of various words with widely different usages. Here, there is fossilised deletion. Compare 'The school has 110 new pupils a year, ergo 110 leavers.' = 'The school has 110 new pupils a year, and therefore it has 110 leavers.' // Here, '... from which source his name is derived ... Luca' / ' ... which fact explains his unusual name ... Luca'. Feb 11, 2023 at 15:13
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    'Hence' doesn't mean 'so' here. It means, in this context 'that is the reason or explanation for' That is exactly what is in the Cambridge Dictionary entry from which you copied the sentence. His mother is Italian, and that is the explanation for his Italian name - Luca. Luca is a proper name and starts with a capital letter. Feb 11, 2023 at 15:17

4 Answers 4


Indeed, hence has functions as a preposition, which words with similar meanings like "so" don't have. This makes "hence his name" grammatically correct. But not a clause, as there is no verb.

It is quite common for English words to slip between the functions of adverb, preposition, and conjunction. English doesn't mark these parts of speech with any special word endings, so you only know it has happened by the syntax.


This usage is perfectly grammatical and is explained in this article by Jakub Marian, but it is formal.

Just like “thus”, “hence” is an adverb, not a conjunction, so it cannot join two independent clauses (note that it is more common to omit the commas around “hence” than after “thus” in formal writing):
• He is not satisfied. Hence(,) we must prepare a new proposal.
• He is not satisfied; hence(,) we must prepare a new proposal.
(wrong) • He is not satisfied, hence we must prepare a new proposal.

“Hence” used in this sense is rather uncommon, and such usage persists mostly in specialized fields, such as scientific writing.

There is, however, another, more common meaning of “hence”, which substitutes a verb but is not a clause in itself and is always separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma:
• Our server was down, hence the delay in responding.
• The chemicals cause the rain to become acidic, hence the term “acid rain”.

As you can see, “hence” substitutes phrases such as “which leads to” or “which is the reason of”.

"Thus" is another word such as "hence"; it can be used synonymously, in fact.

• His mother was an Italian, thus his name, Luca.

(ref.) From the beginning of his career as a Foreign Service professional he had felt himself entirely at home but also an alien in an irrelevant order, thus his threats to resign and his desire to plunge into the study of Chekhov.

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    Doesn't your answer suggest that all Italian boys are called Luca? Feb 11, 2023 at 15:29
  • @MichaelHarvey It seems that usage does not entail such a generalization. For instance, in the example sentence, being an alien in an irrelevant order, does not entail an automatic consequence of theats being made by whomever is subject to that situation, much less the consequence of wanting to study Chekohv.
    – LPH
    Feb 11, 2023 at 15:39

The word "hence" is part of a family of largely outdated words:

Here = (at) this place There = (at) that place Where = (at) what place
Hence = from this place Thence = from that place Whence = from what place
Hither = to this place Thither = to that place Whither = to what place
Herefore = for this reason Therefore = for that reason Wherefore = for what reason

"Hence," meaning "from here," came to be used as a sort of logical connector from one idea to another, and that's the only usage that's survived into modern vernacular (while the rest of the italic words didn't survive at all except in idioms).

So while it can sometimes be interchanged with "so," its actual usage is a little more nuanced than that. Any valid usage can still be interpreted with the original meaning, even if the syntax surrounding it is a fossil. "From here, his name: Luca" sounds like something an 18th-century professor or native French speaker might say, but it's syntactically valid!


My only minor quibble here would be the use of his in the example sentence. It should really be hence the name — Luca see google ngram viewer

Hence shouldn't have a verb in the example sentence, and so it's not really missing. Hence the X means something like and this is the reason for the X. It could be described as an idiomatic expression. Note also that the word hence is actually quite rare now, often considered obsolete/archaic, but it does survive in this fairly common expression.

Some other examples:

Yesterday, I drank too much wine, hence the hangover.

James was his child, hence the concern.

Beans disagree with me, hence the flatulence.

He was Scottish, hence the name — Macdonald.

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