I wonder why I need to know words like thereby, thereunto, wherewithal, hereonafter, thenceforward and others. I understand that I am unable to use them while writing an essay, because these words are abstruse. From my perspective, they can be used in legal English and in literature (books). I would like to know if they can be boring for native speakers to hear. And how do they affect upon English native speakers?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Lawrence, Jason Bassford, tmgr, Robusto, Mitch Jan 28 at 16:41

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 5
    Welcome to EL&U. I'm afraid that the way you have framed the question makes it unanswerable; you cannot say that all native speakers will react to a particular word in a particular context at a particular time in any particular way, and whether something is "boring" or not is personal and subjective. I would submit further that I do not consider thereby, thereunto, or wherewithal to be archaic, though they would not be common in most casual conversations. Please take the site tour and review the help center and see if you can edit the question to clarify your interest. – choster Jan 17 at 0:00
  • Wherewithal is much less archaic than thenceforward. – Peter Shor Jan 17 at 1:13
  • 2
    Thereby, as an example, is quite acceptable in essays . . . – Jason Bassford Jan 17 at 4:14
  • They make things more formal, but they're not all the way to boring, and many are not archaic. There's no reason not to use them in an essay, except maybe hereonafter, which I am not familiar with. – Maverick Jan 23 at 16:46

Summarizing the comments, some of these words are quite acceptable in formal essays, although they are generally less used in casual conversations. Some of them are so archaic that you should never use them unless you're writing a legal document or a historical novel (and maybe not even then).

Thereby is clearly in the first category, while thenceforward and hereonafter are in the second (unless you made a typo for hereinafter). The others are somewhere in between.


Most of them sound odd in daily life English. They're archaic for a reason and the reason is that people stopped using them. :)

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