Is this correct use of "thereby"?

There is currently a new improvement in the education system, which was originally proposed by A and who thereby received the credits.

Would it be better to use therefore?

  • 3
    The choice between thereby and therefore depends on whether you want to emphasise the method by which A received credits, or the reason. But either way, I'd say there's something decidedly fishy about ... and who ... (I could suggest replacing who with a comma, but the whole sentence is probably fatally overloaded anyway). Jan 25, 2014 at 21:53
  • I'd suggest using therefore and replacing the and with a comma - "which was originally proposed by A, who therefore received the credit" Jan 25, 2014 at 21:56
  • As Elendil implicitly points out, it should be "credit", not "credits", and I'm not sure if it should be the credit to boot. More to the point, the whole appendix of receiving credit is completely superfluous to me. What credit? Received from whom? Why does it matter? All unclear, and as far as the sentence at hand is concerned, you just gave him credit by stating it was his idea, so just end it right then and there. When the whole phrase has to go, the word choice is a red herring. An XY problem.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jan 25, 2014 at 22:07

4 Answers 4


Both words are grammatically valid in that sentence though they mean slightly different things.

Thereby = by that means, as a result of that. Therefore = for that reason

In this case they seem to have much the same effect. A got the credit 'by that means' and 'for that reason'.

So I wouldn't be too bothered about which you use.

There is, however, another problem with the sentence, which in my view is of greater concern.

The main clause is in the present tense: There is currently a new improvement in the education system.

It then moves to the past which was originally proposed by A. All is fine at that point. There is currently an improvement, and it was proposed by A. Ok.

But in the final clause and who thereby received the credits you use the past. It is that second use of the past, saying that A received the credits which doesn't seem to match with the present in the opening clause.

It seems to me that it should read who thereby receives the credits, since it is only now that there is an improvement.


Thereby and Therefore have different meanings.


Thereby : It means as a result of an action.

For instance, let's say there is a sentence like, Regular exercises make us more fit, thereby keeping us more active.

We are kept active because of doing "Regular exercises". keeping us active is a RESULT of the ACTION we are doing, which is the exercises.

Therefore : It means for that reason.

For instance, let's say there is a sentence like, Regular exercises make us more fit and therefore made us more healthy. So we are made healthy because of doing the regular exercises. It's not a RESULT, but a REASON. You may or may not get healthy by doing regular exercises(the Result may vary), but regular exercises is a REASON why you are healthy.


  • Thereby -> Subsequent RESULT of the first sentence.
  • Therefore ->REASON why something was done/ happened as a result of the first sentence.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/therefore http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/thereby

  • @Hank okay it's updated Feb 25, 2017 at 6:33

No, it is not a correct use of thereby; a proper use would have to be something like ...who put his name to the regulation and thereby took the credit. I suspect therefore was intended; but since there is currently a new improvement is unhappy at best and a confusion of tenses at worst, the and totally changes the meaning for the worse and credits should be credit, I hesitate to say what, if anything, the author was thinking of.


In your example, you need to use therefore.

Thereby Adv.: by that means, by that; by means of that; "He knocked over the red wine, thereby ruining the table cloth"

Thereby implies something happening in some way, by a particular means.

A former South African describes an experience one of her servants had with the police and thereby illuminates the Kafkaesque nightmare in which black people live. [Negro Digest (1963)]

therefore Adv.: consequently; as a result: "they heard the warning on the radio and therefore took another route."

Therefor implies a consequence, as a result of this or that; for this or that reason, consequently, hence.

Cameron's under pressure from the Tory right for being a softie and, therefore, promised tougher action on the tabloid bad guys: killers, knife crime artists and squatters. (The Guardian)


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