1

I am writing a to a business recipient and ended up with the following sentence (version 1):

Yes, I am aware that your company is not operating this system anymore, but would be most interested in past/historical data, hence me contacting you.

Alternatively, I thought about changing the last part of the sentence to (version 2):

... hence I contacted you.

Ngrams seem to favor version 2, but I have the feeling I read version 1 before. This source seems to indicate version 1 is correct (see the second example, "hence means from this source").

Are both forms correct? Is there a preferred one in this case? Why?

2

Cambridge English Dictionary gives the following for this sense of hence:

that [the following] is the reason or explanation for:

  • His mother was Italian, hence his name – Luca.
  • Peter's leaving at the end of this week – hence his anxiety to get his work finished.
  • The prime minister was attending the conference, hence all the extra security.
  • He's just got a pay rise, hence the new car.
  • She's just found out she failed her exams, hence her bad mood.
  • The firm is owned by Mark Atkins, hence the name – MA Advertising.

Note that hence is followed in every example by a noun phrase, after a comma or dash depending on the amount of dramatic emphasis (vs smooth flow of the text) desired.

Here is an example from another thread on ELU showing an ing-form string following [not directly] hence:

  • The video is terrible, hence my writing about it.

The idiomatic version would here be ... hence my contacting you (though hence can also be used with the meaning therefore, allowing ... – hence/therefore I contacted you). But this would sound somewhat less professional.

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  • I agree with its use with noun phrases rather than an independent clause sounds more correct. Do you know if there's any authoritative reference that mentions this? I haven't been able to find one. – Jason S Sep 14 at 17:15
  • Grammarist supplies examples with 'hence' interchangeable with 'therefore': • It’s that India has an airline that is run by politicians and hence can be milked by various interest groups. [Wall Street Journal] • The Orthodox Church is surely a form of organised religion; hence his real quarrel is not so much with religion per se, any more than with atheism per se. [Financial Times]. ACC-ing constructions are usually found after certain verbs (I didn't like him singing) or prepositions (I just wanted to leave after them singing!) – Edwin Ashworth Sep 14 at 18:42
  • But the usage in this question is consistent with 'hence' meaning 'from this source' in the same Grammarist page. – Jason S Sep 14 at 23:35
  • Really? "Alternatively, I thought about changing the last part of the sentence to (version 2): ... hence I contacted you." – Edwin Ashworth Sep 15 at 11:00
  • Both sound awkward to me. The gerund form sounds more grammatically correct but too academic / pedantic. The other form sounds like it is a non-native English speaker talking. (either that or the use of "hence" + clause is something that works better in other dialects than American English. I've heard it with my coworkers from India.) I personally wouldn't use "hence" at all in the OP's context. – Jason S Sep 15 at 16:48
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You could also avoid "hence", which is better used in literary or journalistic works. Some alternatives:

Yes, I am aware that your company is not operating this system anymore, but would be most interested in past/historical data, so I contacted you.

or

Yes, I am aware that your company is not operating this system anymore, but would be most interested in past/historical data, which is why I contacted you.

To my US English ear, the word "hence" sounds archaic/awkward if not used with a noun phrase as in Merriam-Webster's website

Panforte—a cross between a cake and a candy—is a classic Italian Christmas treat. It's a very dense, rich confection loaded with nuts, dried fruit, and spices (hence its name, which means "strong bread").

In the past, the playoffs lasted five rounds, but the MHSAA is doubling the size of the playoffs, hence the possible need for an extra week.

I don't have an authoritative source for this preference (noun phrase rather than clause) but it's an anecdotal assessment based on what I've read over the years.

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