Here's an example from the Merriam-Webster dictionary of a typical use of the word whereas:

Whereas you chose to participate in this stupid prank, you will be held responsible as well.

(this is one of the two different meanings of the word.)

In the preambles of contracts, however, I often see two additions to such sentences. The first is the use of therefore:

Whereas you chose to participate in this stupid prank, therefore you will be held responsible as well.

This seems redundant to me, although perhaps not entirely wrong. Is it grammatically incorrect? Obviously, it's not used in that kind of sentence exactly, but rather in longer, run-on sentences with multiple whereas clauses, i.e.:

WHEREAS the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog; and WHEREAS the lazy dog jumps over the cunning cat; and WHEREAS the cunning cat has been chasing the sneaky mouse; THEREFORE some thing or the other is to be undertaken etc. etc.

Can the addition of therefore be justified grammatically as a mechanism for re-asserting the sentence's intended meaning? as a kind of a shorthand to "WHEREAS all of the above,"?

The second word is now:

WHEREAS foo; and WHEREAS bar; and WHEREAS baz; NOW, THEREFORE quux.

This puzzles me. What's the use of the now? And why is it any help, if therefore has already been added?

Note: The overall meaning of such sentences is clear enough with or without these two additions, I'm asking about the grammar here, and about whether their addition adds a certain, shall we say, shade of meaning or interpretation which I'm not fully grasping.

  • Are you (1) asking for help with understanding what this language means, or is it (2) that you already know what it means, but would like to see an explanation of why legal documents use such language (which, from the standpoint of everyday English usage, seems rather peculiar). I am assuming that it is (2), but if so, it might be a good idea to say so explicitly - otherwise the question will probably generate answers that are answering (1).
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 1:19
  • @jsw29: It's number 2.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 7:44
  • It is not the use of "Now" and "therefore" in contract preambles. The usage is: "Now, therefore," [etc.], which concludes a preamble. "Now" is an adverb meaning "at this point", and "therefore" is a result, a conjunctive adverb.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 15:53
  • Whereas you chose to participate in this stupid prank, you will be held responsible as well" is no better English than your "use of the world whereas"… “Whereas" like that would be archaic. Would you not think "as well" after "responsible" redundant? "Therefore" in your context makes it worse. In Medieval English, your "… quick brown fox…” and any other “"whereas/for” example, “therefore” would prolly work but we no longer speak Medieval English; “therefore” has degenerated into a confusing nuisance. Still, if your Question has anything to do with law then take it to a law forum. Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 20:45
  • Clearly, the clueless continue to prevail. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


1) This is legal language and in legal language, there is such a thing known as a "whereas clause". It just means "given that":

Legal language has its own pitfalls. I suggest you read this article:

LESSON TO LEARN: In legal agreements, language that appears in the beginning, which merely “sets the stage” or “describes the background” of the transaction, is not considered an operative or integral part of the agreement. Whether or not the word “Whereas” is used, this language is commonly referred to as “Whereas Clauses,” “recitals” or “decretal language.” The word “decretal” comes from the words “decree,” that is, a “pronouncement without binding effect.”

“Whereas” means literally “given the fact that,” and seems to be the way so many lawyers think it is best to begin a contract. The “Whereas Clauses,” even if they don’t use the word “whereas,” is generally viewed to be an introduction or preamble to a contract, and not a part of the contract’s operative provisions.

2) "Now, therefore" is a set legal phrase and it comes at the end of a series of whereas clauses or the recitals to state a conclusion regarding the whereas clauses.

From the same article:

Whereas, Mario and Sheldon are both experienced in the construction business, and

Whereas, Mario and Sheldon would like to join their efforts together, and

Whereas, Mario and Sheldon would like to become partners,

Now, therefore, to accomplish that, Mario and Sheldon enter into this agreement . . .

3) The word whereas is often written in all caps in these clauses: WHEREAS and so is NOW, THEREFORE. And that's that about this. Whereas clauses are also known as recitals or decretal language.

4) In my own words, this is all just: given A, B and C, a lawyer or law firm concludes D from it. These legal style issues should be understood within the existing tradition and usage of legal English and taken at face value. But whereas just means: given that.

whereas clauses

  • 1
    This does not answer my question. See my clarification.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 7:46
  • @einpoklum 1) Your first sample sentence does not reflect contract language. You don't get whereas in clause one, followed by therefore in clause two. You get a list of whereas statements, that ends with: ***Now, therefore containing a conclusion to them. 2) whereas clauses are not run-on sentences at all. They are not complete sentences; they list ideas introduced by the idea of given that, which means whereas in legal language. Your idea of extra meaning is not right. These are legal forms; they are stylistic. Now is an adverb and therefore is a conjunctive adverb.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 14:03
  • 1
    I explained how my first example is taken from the dictionary. If you mean my second one - it is an artificial intermediary, yes. My earlier comment stands though.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 14:56
  • It's interesting that I am the only one who has tried to answer your question. "Artificial intermediary" is not a grammar term I am familiar with. For me, this question comes under stylistics of legal language or discourse, and I have explained it grammar-wise to my own satisfaction.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 14:03
  • @einpoklum-reinstateMonica I am rereading this many moons later and I wish I had never shared what I know. What a waste of my time.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 19:29

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