“Wherefore”

So, how long have I been doing this? About fourteen years?

Well then, how come it has taken me this long to write about wherefore? Excuse me, WHEREFORE.

There’s archaic, then there’s bizarro archaic. WHEREFORE falls into the latter category.

One meaning of wherefore is “why,” as in “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” Another meaning is “as a result of which,” “therefore.” I’ve seen it used in the lead-in to convey that meaning. Here’s one example (it and the others are from that great boneyard, the SEC’s EDGAR system):

Now, WHEREFORE, the Department and Respondent agree as follows:

And here’s another:

WHEREFORE, this Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership has been duly executed by the General Partner and the Limited Partners as of the date first above written.

The standard-issue archaism, NOW, THEREFORE, is bad enough—it seems twisted to go for something even more obscure. Instead, retreat to rationality and use instead The parties therefore agree as follows.

You also see WHEREFORE used in recitals instead of the archaic WHEREAS:

WHEREFORE, Executive is currently the Executive Vice President, Commercial Operations of Heska.

WHEREFORE, Executive and Heska now wish to enter into this Agreement regarding the terms of Executive’s employment, which shall become effective upon execution.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing and of the mutual promises, covenants, and agreements contained herein, the legal sufficiency of which is acknowledged by the Parties, and intending to be legally bound, the Parties agree as follows:

But in this context, “as a result of which” is not the meaning you’re looking to convey. This is alarmingly weird.

You also see it in the concluding clause, instead of IN WITNESS WHEREOF, which is itself a sad joke:

IN WITNESS WHEREFORE, the Parties have signed this Agreement on the date first written above.

This is so bizarre that I don’t know what to say.

Bottom line: If you’re tempted to use WHEREFORE in a contract, or if you’re inclined to use it anywhere other than on stage in Elizabethan garb, seek help immediately.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.