Having just learned that in Old English the word for was written as fore, why is therefore still written as it is currently, and not as therefor?

Being a non-native English speaker, many times I automatically write therefor, as my brain probably is thinking on for. Alternatively, many times I also write fore, as my brain is probably thinking on therefore.

Edit: the possible duplicate is about the difference between the two expressions, and it would only be relevant if the actual reason why it is therefore instead of therefor is to distinguish them. But since that is not the reason, I believe that question is not a duplicate of this.


1 Answer 1


The "fore" in therefore does not mean "for". It means

  • situated or placed in front
  • the front part of something

That same root is used in words like

  • before, aforementioned, foreboding, etc.

I don't suppose you are proposing to change the spelling of all these words?

The word "therefor" does use "for" and means "for that".

P.S. When you thing about it, the German cognate of "fore" is "vor", and the one for "for" is "für".

  • Good explanation Armen, although I wonder the root of 'forward'? Should it be 'foreward'?
    – Pete855217
    Aug 22, 2016 at 10:50
  • @Pete855217 - Forward: Old English forewearde "toward the front, in front; toward the future; at the beginning;" see fore + -ward. ---- *Fore. - mid-15c., "forward;" late 15c., "former, earlier;" early 16c., "situated at the front;" all senses apparently from fore- compounds, which frequently were written as two words in Middle English.
    – user66974
    Aug 22, 2016 at 10:55
  • 2
    Isn't your answer at odds with Etymoline? therefore (adv.): Old English þærfore; from there + fore, Old English and Middle English collateral form of for. Since c. 1800, therefor has been used in sense of "for that, by reason of that;" and therefore in sense of "in consequence of that." Similar formation in Dutch daarfoor, German dafür, Danish derfor.
    – Jacinto
    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:16
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    My main issue is with: from there + fore, Old English and Middle English collateral form of for. Etymolyne also says therefor is a "Middle English variant spelling of therefore"
    – Jacinto
    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:26
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    @ArmenԾիրունյան Derfor in Danish means both ‘therefore’ and ‘therefor’; as in German, only one of the possible combinations exist (there is no *derfør). The extended and unextended forms of this preposition/adverb are thoroughly enough mixed up in all the Germanic languages that it doesn't really make sense to say that fore = vor and for = für. As Etymonline states, therefor(e) is one word with two alternative spellings that eventually became two words through increasingly distinct usage—the fore in it really does mean ‘for’. The word makes no sense otherwise. Aug 22, 2016 at 22:09

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