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Trying to be concise, I have been using hence instead of therefore for some time.

In the context of a casual conversation, which should be used (and why)?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Actually, depending on the parlance of your peers, either is acceptable as long as they don't look at you funny when you use either word. You can also use "so", for example:

"I have a headache, therefore I'm not going to class tonight."

"I have a headache, hence I'm not going to class tonight." (this sounds odd to me)

"I have a headache, so I'm not going to class tonight."

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"Hence" is far less common as it is indeed unusually old (circa 1200-1300 AD) in its form and use. It generally comes off as ostentatious, and I personally only use it when I wish to be comically fancy. "I do not want to play your silly little game, hence I shall take my ball and go home." –  BrianDHall Apr 24 '13 at 17:20
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"Ergo" is clearly the only real option. cough –  dotsamuelswan Apr 24 '13 at 17:25
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@dotsamuelswan: Ergo is a great choice; consequently, I'll upvote your comment. –  J.R. Apr 24 '13 at 17:49
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@Carlo_R., to me it is still odd and old-fashioned sounding. I think the sentence is a little weird, too, in that under what circumstances would I be saying "You have a headache." If I change the subject of the new sentence to something less odd, like "You made me mad, hence, I'm uninviting you to my party.", "hence" sounds a little better but I would still use "therefore" or "so" before I'd use "hence". –  Kristina Lopez Apr 24 '13 at 20:57
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Kristina, thank you! That is very helpful. –  user19148 Apr 24 '13 at 20:59
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