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I dabble in creative writing here and there. Wordsmiths like Tolkien and Lovecraft are a pleasure to read for their sheer skill in sentence structure and plethora of words.

I'm now attempting to learn how to end sentences with "hence". I saw such a sentence recently and I enjoyed it very much. But while I've looked at the meaning to be "from here" as an archaic usage of the word, I don't entirely have a feeling and inner understanding for how this structure works. Normally I'd improve this by reading and exposing myself to it, but alas, in this case, there aren't many hence-ending sentences I'm able to find.

So I ask you here, to give me some examples of them. Or perhaps, point me in the right direction.

Thank you.

  • The phrasings in your question remind me of the speech patterns of Albert, German husband to Queen Victoria, in the Masterpiece Theater program: pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/shows/victoria – TRomano Feb 14 at 11:11
  • I disagree. I tried to read Tolkien aloud to my children and it was a nightmare. An acquaintance had the same experience. Gives you a different view of things. – David Feb 14 at 15:07
  • Your closing sentence can be rewritten as a request to point you hence. – Lawrence Feb 14 at 15:10
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    @David Despite Tolkien’s work being initially created for the benefit of his own children, I don’t think the majority of it is really very suitable as material to be read aloud to children. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a pleasure to read, though; just that its audience is not generally small children. I first tried to read Shakespeare on my own when I was about 10, and it was completely hopeless. Then I tried again around 15 and found it difficult and not very enjoyable. Then I tried again in my twenties and found it highly enjoyable. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 14 at 15:24
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    Pretend the word is “there”. You can say “point me there” with no comma. Hence is used the same way if you intend to use the word as a direction. – Lawrence Feb 15 at 13:43
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The word hence can have a temporal meaning similar to "down the road" or "later":

The order was placed in January and the products were shipped three months hence.

You take out a loan for $10,000 and by the time it is paid off five years hence, you will have paid the bank quite a lot of money in interest.

That meaning is not "archaic" but it is definitely old-fashioned.

The spatial use is more of an archaism.

On the 15th of that month the vessel sailed hence.

The vessel sailed away; sailed from here.

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    The order was placed in January and the products were shipped three months hence. 'Hence means 'from here', so in a sentenced referring to the past you would need to use 'thence'. 'Three months hence' is 'three months from today'. – Kate Bunting Feb 15 at 9:36
  • @Kate Bunting: hence does not always mean "from now". It is sometimes used to mean merely "later on" (i.e. from that point). Compare: books.google.com/… The "origo" can be projected just as it can be with now; And they came now to a stream. – TRomano Feb 15 at 18:21
  • See also: books.google.com/… or this: books.google.com/… or this: books.google.com/… – TRomano Feb 15 at 18:27
  • I find that usage very odd. – Kate Bunting Feb 16 at 9:01
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The OED has a score of them, among their many examples, including from Shakespeare.

Etymology: Middle English hennes , etc., < the earlier henne , hen adv., with adverbial genitive suffix -es, -s, as in -ward, -wards, etc. The spelling hence is phonetic, to retain the breath sound denoted in the earlier spelling by s, as in once, twice, mice, pence, defence, etc.

I. Of place. 1.

a. (Away) from here, from this place; to a distance. c1290 S. Eng. Leg. I. 41/231 Ich it wolle hennes lede. c1300 (▸?a1200) Laȝamon Brut (Otho) (1963) l. 792 Hare we hinnes [c1275 Calig. heonne] wende. c1300 Beket 998 Go hunnes. c1330 R. Mannyng Chron. Wace 16562 To Cornewaille þey fledden hennes. 1382 Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) Gen. xlii. 15 Ȝe shulen not goon hens, to the tyme that ȝoure leest brother come. c1440 York Myst. xxii. 3 High you hense. c1450 (▸c1400) Sowdon of Babylon (1881) l. 1922 Elles come we nevere hennys oute. 1559 W. Baldwin et al. Myrroure for Magistrates Suffolk xii In wit and learning matcheles hence to Grece. c1560 A. Scott Poems (S.T.S.) xx. 57 Thairfoir go hens in haist. a1616
Shakespeare Two Gentlemen of Verona (1623) i. ii. 60 How churlishly, I chid Lucetta hence . 1634 T. Herbert Relation Some Yeares Trauaile 214 Hence our journey led vs homewards in fiue dayes sayle. 1808 Scott Marmion vi. xxiii Hence might they see the full array of either host.

b. At a distance from here; away. c1330   Assump. Virg. (B.M. MS.) 328   I was fer hens atte my prechinge. 1393   Langland Piers Plowman

C. vi. 80 Lyf-holynesse and loue, han ben longe hennes. 1560 J. Heywood Fourth Hundred Epygrams ii. sig. Aiv Ye haue..taryde longe hence. 1595 Spenser Colin Clouts come Home Againe sig. A3v Whilest thou wast hence. a1616 Shakespeare Winter's Tale (1623) iv. iii. 80 I haue a Kinsman not past three quarters of a mile hence .

c. with redundant from (†fro). c1340   Cursor M. (Trin.) 1264   Þi gate Fro hennes to paradis ȝate. a1425  (▸c1395)    Bible (Wycliffite,

L.V.) (Royal) (1850) Gen. xlii. 15 Ȝe schulen not go fro hennus. 1477 Caxton in Earl Rivers tr. Dictes or Sayengis Philosophhres (1877) lf. 73v Socrates was..boren in a ferre Contre from hens. 1526 Bible (Tyndale) Luke iv. f. lxxix Cast thy silfe doune from hens. 1597 Shakespeare Richard II iii. iii. 6 Richard not farre from hence hath hid his head. 1718 J. Addison Remarks Italy (ed. 2) 4 We sailed from hence directly for Genoa. 1792 T. Jefferson Writings (1859) III. 489 It being impossible to prescribe them from hence. 1820 W. Irving Sketch Bk. I. 171 From hence I was conducted up a staircase to a suite of apartments.

  1. with ellipsis of vb. of motion, chiefly as a command: hence! go hence, depart. hence with: go away with, take away. 1573–80 J. Baret Aluearie H. 392 Hence, away, apage te. 1582 R. Stanyhurst tr. Virgil First Foure Bookes Æneis ii. 41 Let vs hence. 1593
    Shakespeare Venus & Adonis sig. D I pray you hence, and leaue me here alone. a1616 Shakespeare Tempest (1623) i. ii. 477 Hence: hang not on my garments. a1616 Shakespeare Winter's Tale (1623) ii. iii. 68 Hence with her, out o'dore. 1638 Milton Lycidas in Obsequies 20 in Justa Edouardo King Hence with deniall vain, and coy excuse. 1769 T. Gray Ode at Installation Duke of Grafton 12 Hence, away, 'tis holy ground! 1855 R. Browning Grammarian's Funeral 112
    Hence with life's pale lure!

  2. a. spec. From this world, from this life. c1315 Shoreham 83 That no fend ous ne schende Nou, ne wanne the tyme comthe Thet we scholle hennes wende. c1450 Lay Folks Mass Bk. (MS. F.) 121 And for the saules that hennes be past. 1583 P. Stubbes Second Pt. Anat. Abuses sig. M2 When God shall call them hence to himselfe. 1611
    Bible (King James) Psalms xxxix. 13 Before I goe hence, and be no more. 1871 B. Jowett tr. Plato Dialogues I. 415 They go from hence into the other world. b. Elsewhere (than in this world); in the next world. Obsolete. ▸ c1426 J. Audelay Poems (1931) 11 Hit schal be ponyschid here ore hennus euere trespasse. 1604 Shakespeare Hamlet iii. ii. 211 Both heere and hence pursue me lasting strife, If once I be a widdow, euer I be a wife. a1616 Shakespeare King John (1623) iv. ii. 89 This must be answer'd either heere, or hence .

    II. Of time.

  3. a. From this time onward, henceforward, henceforth. Also with from (†fro). arch. and poet. c1380 Eng. Wycliffite Serm. in Sel. Wks. II. 17 From hens bigan Jesus to preche. c1384 Chaucer Hous of Fame iii. 194 Fro hennes in to domes day. 1598 Shakespeare Love's Labour's Lost v. ii. 808 Hence herrite then my hart, is in thy brest. a1616 Shakespeare Othello (1622) iii. iii. 384 From hence, I'le loue no friend, since loue breedes such offence. 1633
    P. Fletcher Purple Island xii. lxxxviii. 180 Hence mayst thou freely play. 1817 Shelley Laon & Cythna ix. xvi. 201 That the rule of men was over now, And hence, the subject world to woman's will must bow.
    †b. (At some time in the past reckoned) from now; in quot. 1393 = since, ago. Obsolete. rare. 1393 Langland Piers Plowman C. vi. 35
    Whanne ich ȝong was..meny ȝer hennes. 1610 Bp. J. Hall Common Apol. against Brownists xiii. 34 But you leape backe..from hence to the Apostles times. c. (At some time in the future) from now. a1616 Shakespeare Comedy of Errors (1623) iii. i. 123 Ile meet you at that place some houre hence . a1735 J. Arbuthnot Hist. John Bull (1988) V. Pref. 93 Let not posterity a thousand years hence look for truth in the voluminous annals of pedants. 1885 Manch. Examiner 12 Oct. 5/1 We have to..think of what our position will be five years hence.
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Anyone familiar with the Authorised King James translation of the Bible will no doubt remember Acts 1:5 which ends with ...

not many days hence.

Meaning not many days into the future, or not many days from now.

And then there is the last few words of John chapter fourteen which ends with Jesus' words ...

Aride, let us go hence.

Meaning, let us go from here.

There are other expressions, not at the end of sentences, in the KJV .. 'remove hence', 'depart hence', 'take these things hence' and one unusual one in James 4:1 ...

From whence come wars and fightings among you ? Come they not hence, even of your own desires ... etc.

'Come they not hence' appears to mean, 'Come they not here'. Which seems a little odd to me, for I thought the meaning of 'hence' was 'from here'.

I have cheated, of course, and used a concordance. I didn't do this from memory.

  • I think we can understand it as "from there" rather than "(to) here". You will encounter "They came hence hither". – TRomano Feb 14 at 11:03
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    @NigelJ 'Come they not hence?' means 'Don't they come from here?' (i.e. the quarrels come from you yourselves). – Kate Bunting Feb 15 at 9:45
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    @TRomano Hence = from here. Thence = from there. Hither = to here. Thither = to there. – Kate Bunting Feb 15 at 9:46
  • @Kate Bunting: hence can also mean "away (from there) " – TRomano Feb 15 at 14:52
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    And although I don't have my hand on one at the moment, I'm sure there are attestations detailing a past itinerary where phrases like "and we sailed hence on to X place", where "hence" refers to a location that is not the speaker's present location. The hence/thence distinction is not always a perfectly clear cut one. – TRomano Feb 15 at 17:54

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