Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

These words all have something in common: heretofore, forthwith, notwithstanding, therefore, etc... what are these kinds of words called? And where can I find a list of them?

share|improve this question
are you looking for a part of speech? –  Mitch Feb 11 '12 at 20:34
This is a heterogeneous group. You'll have to be more specific. –  Brett Reynolds Feb 11 '12 at 20:51
generally, compound words made up of 'here' 'to' 'fore' 'with' 'forth' 'not' 'withstanding' 'there' 'at'... i don't know what to call it, which is why I'm asking for help on how to identify them. Essentially it's "words that sound like that", to me, at this point.. –  Claudiu Feb 11 '12 at 22:33
more examples: hitherto, erewhile, erstwhile, theretofore, herebefore, erenow, hithertofore... kind of, words implying a going to or coming from, either physically or with ideas.. –  Claudiu Feb 11 '12 at 22:35
How about 'nevertheless', 'moreover', 'nonetheless', 'wherefore', 'whence', 'however'? –  Mitch Feb 12 '12 at 2:30

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Because I had a similar question to this, I stumbled upon yours, and I apologize for "necro-bumping" this thread, but I feel that I should help because I have found an answer myself. They are called pronominal adverbs. Here's the definition from wiktionary:

"A type of adverb occurring in a number of Germanic languages, formed in replacement of a preposition and a pronoun by turning the latter into a locative adverb and the former into a prepositional adverb and joining them in reverse order."

Here is a link to a good list of them:


Here's the list directly:

H: hereabout, hereabouts, hereafter, hereat, hereby, herein, hereinafter, hereinbefore, hereinto, hereof, hereon, hereto, heretofore, hereunder, hereunto, hereupon, herewith, herewithin;

T: thereabout, thereafter, thereagainst, therearound, thereat, therebeyond, thereby, therefor, therefore, therefrom, therein, thereinafter, thereof, thereon, thereover, therethrough, therethroughout, thereto, theretofore, thereunder, thereunto, thereupon, therewith, therewithal, therewithin;


W: whereabout, whereabouts, whereafter, whereas, whereat, whereby, wherefore, wherefrom, wherein, whereinto, whereof, whereon, whereover, wherethrough, whereto, whereunder, whereupon, wherever, wherewith, wherewithal, wherewithin, wherewithout.

share|improve this answer
It's better to edit your post and add some more detail from the link you've included, so that in case the content of the link changes, we'll still have the answer on this website. (: –  Neeku Jul 25 '14 at 14:00
Yes, done. Thank you. –  Jasper Locke Jul 25 '14 at 16:28
This is definitely the closest. All these terms match what I was thinking of, and it's a long list of them! I wonder though where something like "forthwith" would fit in - why is forthwith not a pronomial adverb? Or is it, but it just wasn't added in the wiktionary yet? –  Claudiu Sep 25 '14 at 15:19

These are all adverbs and compound words. However, there are numerous adverbs and compound words, and most are not as "fancy". These words do not have a category unto themselves.

Of the ones that I just looked up, they appear to derive from Middle or Old English. They are often found in pre-Victorian literature (e.g., any Austen novels).

In today's society, these words (except therefore) are usually (but not exclusively) found within legal documents. Therefore, if I had to give them a name, it would be legalese, but I think this narrows the scope too much.

As for lists, here's a good starting point: http://www.wordnik.com/words/heretofore.

share|improve this answer
Most are adverbs, but notwithstanding is a preposition (albeit one that sometimes follows its object). –  Brett Reynolds Feb 11 '12 at 20:52
This answer is not legalese. Therefore, it's an exception as far as therefore is concerned.:) –  Kris Feb 12 '12 at 8:58

I think these are mostly considered archaic terms. A more wordy description of things that are described in simpler terms now. Searching for "archaic terms" comes up with several results including http://phrontistery.info/archaic.html

share|improve this answer
Archaic might apply to notwithstanding and forthwith, but you could hardly say that about whenever, anyway, etc., which are functionally/structurally similar. –  FumbleFingers Feb 11 '12 at 21:45
@FumbleFingers: But the OP didn't ask about those. I think formal/old-fashioned/archaic is what he is looking for. –  Cerberus Feb 11 '12 at 23:51
@Cerberus: He asked about words like his two examples. You choose to see that as likeness in the sense of being formal/old-fashioned/archaic, I choose to see it as being compounds formed primarily from prepositions (so we're both right, and I don't think you can argue different! :) –  FumbleFingers Feb 12 '12 at 1:18
@FumbleFingers: Perhaps I can't; but I wasn't trying to: I was just commenting on your complaint that Geo's answer would not apply to those terms you mentioned. You can't argue that he is wrong based on that. –  Cerberus Feb 12 '12 at 1:25
@Cerberus: Touché. I shall reverse my downvote! –  FumbleFingers Feb 12 '12 at 2:23

I'd call them compound prepositions. Linguistically speaking, compounds are "composite words" made up from more than one component - in OP's examples the components are words (mostly prepositions themselves), and the resulting compound is also usually a preposition.

Just because some sound formal or archaic doesn't mean they all are. For example, within, without, toward, underneath, throughout, etc., are all in the same general class of words.

OP is particularly interested in prepositions of location - spatial, temporal, or metaphorical (as in "location within a logical framework"). Typical examples such as whereat, hereinafter, thereupon, etc. often occur in legal wordings or complex scholarly arguments, where the "location" is actually some other part of the text. That's why they seem strange (archaic, even, since styles of discursive argument have changed over the centuries). But even many of these, such as upon, therefore, outside, instead, are unexceptional in everyday contexts today.

I don't want to get bogged down in the question of which of OP's words are adverbs and which are prepositions, because I find that distinction is often vague, depends on context, and means little.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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