15

I've came across the word "wherein", and I'm doubtful about how different it is from using just plain "where". For example in this sentence:

There is a case, though, wherein you can use the aforementioned property.

Is there any difference in meaning if I use "where"?

4

Wherein means "in which place, situation or thing; in what way." It is a formal word that is almost equivalent to where.

an organization wherein each employee is valued and respected

an organization where each employee is valued and respected

  • So, their difference is just the more formal sense given by "wherein"? – Nicolás Jun 11 '13 at 22:41
  • Yes, that is correct. – kiamlaluno Jun 11 '13 at 22:42
  • kiam, is "wherein" translate or translable with "nell'ambito del quale": "an organization nell'ambito della quale each employee is valued and respected"? – user114 Jun 11 '13 at 23:14
  • 1
    @Carlo_R. You can use nell'ambito della quale, nella quale, or simply dove. – kiamlaluno Jun 11 '13 at 23:16
  • almost equivalent to 'where'? I'd like to discuss this. – Maulik V Nov 4 '14 at 7:08
18
+50

Not only is wherein a more archaic term, but it actually has a different meaning than where. It means "in which", and is primarily used as a flowery term evoking legal language, or a fancy or pretentious-sounding table of contents in a book. (e.g. "Chapter 2: Wherein Christopher Robin Meets a Heffalump and Pooh Does Not")

The grammatically correct substitution for wherein is "in which". Replacing wherein with where is one of those cases that is probably incorrect in a technical sense, but it's used enough that people will understand you and it won't sound unnatural.

I am not 100% sure of the etymology, but there is some similarity between some of the archaic English terms like wherein and wherefore, and German terms like worin and wofür. The wo- terms blindly translate as "where" + a preposition, but the actual correct translation for the wo-prefix is that preposition + "which". I suspect that the blind translation of the German wo- prefix into the English where- prefix is how we got these terms. See this English.SE question on whereof/wherein/wherefrom/whereupon/wherewith/wherefore.

  • 1
    similarly for thereof/therein/therefore/thereupon/therewith/therefore and the da- prefix in German, for example dafür, darin. (I've never heard of wherefrom or therefrom) – Jason S Apr 25 '17 at 21:14
2

Sorry, they're not interchangeable. "wherein" refers to a preceding context and "where" does not. You can properly say "I threw the football to my son where my buddy threw a baseball to his son". You can't use "wherein" there. Similarly, if you say "a computer system rendering images where the processor used a jpeg format". This does not necessarily imply that the processor wasn't in another computer system processing another image. Here, the term "wherein" would necessarily mean that the processor was in the preceding computer system.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.