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These words all have something in common: heretofore, forthwith, notwithstanding, therefore, etc... what are these kinds of words called? And where can I find a list of them?

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  • are you looking for a part of speech?
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 20:34
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    This is a heterogeneous group. You'll have to be more specific. Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 20:51
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    generally, compound words made up of 'here' 'to' 'fore' 'with' 'forth' 'not' 'withstanding' 'there' 'at'... i don't know what to call it, which is why I'm asking for help on how to identify them. Essentially it's "words that sound like that", to me, at this point..
    – Claudiu
    Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 22:33
  • more examples: hitherto, erewhile, erstwhile, theretofore, herebefore, erenow, hithertofore... kind of, words implying a going to or coming from, either physically or with ideas..
    – Claudiu
    Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 22:35
  • How about 'nevertheless', 'moreover', 'nonetheless', 'wherefore', 'whence', 'however'?
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 2:30

9 Answers 9

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Because I had a similar question to this, I stumbled upon yours, and I apologize for "necro-bumping" this thread, but I feel that I should help because I have found an answer myself. They are called pronominal adverbs. Here's the definition from wiktionary:

"A type of adverb occurring in a number of Germanic languages, formed in replacement of a preposition and a pronoun by turning the latter into a locative adverb and the former into a prepositional adverb and joining them in reverse order."

Here is a link to a good list of them:

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_pronominal_adverbs

Here's the list directly:

H: hereabout, hereabouts, hereafter, hereat, hereby, herein, hereinafter, hereinbefore, hereinto, hereof, hereon, hereto, heretofore, hereunder, hereunto, hereupon, herewith, herewithin;

T: thereabout, thereafter, thereagainst, therearound, thereat, therebeyond, thereby, therefor, therefore, therefrom, therein, thereinafter, thereof, thereon, thereover, therethrough, therethroughout, thereto, theretofore, thereunder, thereunto, thereupon, therewith, therewithal, therewithin;

and

W: whereabout, whereabouts, whereafter, whereas, whereat, whereby, wherefore, wherefrom, wherein, whereinto, whereof, whereon, whereover, wherethrough, whereto, whereunder, whereupon, wherever, wherewith, wherewithal, wherewithin, wherewithout.

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    It's better to edit your post and add some more detail from the link you've included, so that in case the content of the link changes, we'll still have the answer on this website. (:
    – Neeku
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 14:00
  • This is definitely the closest. All these terms match what I was thinking of, and it's a long list of them! I wonder though where something like "forthwith" would fit in - why is forthwith not a pronomial adverb? Or is it, but it just wasn't added in the wiktionary yet?
    – Claudiu
    Commented Sep 25, 2014 at 15:19
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    forwhy” and “hitherto” as well. Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 23:14
  • @Claudiu There is no pronoun or locative there.
    – JDF
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 13:07
  • I wonder if there's any book reference we could find on this that specifically compares stuff like pronomial adverbs and whatever category something like "forthwith" falls in
    – RexYuan
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 13:42
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I'd call them compound prepositions. Linguistically speaking, compounds are "composite words" made up from more than one component - in OP's examples the components are words (mostly prepositions themselves), and the resulting compound is also usually a preposition.

Just because some sound formal or archaic doesn't mean they all are. For example, within, without, toward, underneath, throughout, etc., are all in the same general class of words.

OP is particularly interested in prepositions of location - spatial, temporal, or metaphorical (as in "location within a logical framework"). Typical examples such as whereat, hereinafter, thereupon, etc. often occur in legal wordings or complex scholarly arguments, where the "location" is actually some other part of the text. That's why they seem strange (archaic, even, since styles of discursive argument have changed over the centuries). But even many of these, such as upon, therefore, outside, instead, are unexceptional in everyday contexts today.

I don't want to get bogged down in the question of which of OP's words are adverbs and which are prepositions, because I find that distinction is often vague, depends on context, and means little.

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  • +1 How come you were so up on your prepositions in 2012? Today you'd say they're all adverbs! ;-) Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 2:02
  • @Araucaria: I don't think I was ever that interested in "The Naming of the Parts". Yesterday, I guessed correctly that a new question about compound forms like this would have been asked previously, so I found it and closevoted. But only your comment brought me here today, where I see that I had actually answered the original myself. (Which is by way of admitting that I really can't remember how I thought at the time! :) But I'm gonna guess my main intention wasn't to name them, but to point out that they're not all "formal, legalistic", and that they're often used metaphorically. Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 13:10
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These are all adverbs and compound words. However, there are numerous adverbs and compound words, and most are not as "fancy". These words do not have a category unto themselves.

Of the ones that I just looked up, they appear to derive from Middle or Old English. They are often found in pre-Victorian literature (e.g., any Austen novels).

In today's society, these words (except therefore) are usually (but not exclusively) found within legal documents. Therefore, if I had to give them a name, it would be legalese, but I think this narrows the scope too much.

As for lists, here's a good starting point: http://www.wordnik.com/words/heretofore.

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    Most are adverbs, but notwithstanding is a preposition (albeit one that sometimes follows its object). Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 20:52
  • This answer is not legalese. Therefore, it's an exception as far as therefore is concerned.:)
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 8:58
  • @Henly proposed the following comment to edit this Answer, (part two) "I would add that in addition to "legalese," you might also define these words as key elements of "legal boilerplate" language. Boilerplate essentially means the type of language used in standard forms, which is essentially what many contracts are, with just the specific proper names, places, values and measures added." See this link:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boilerplate_(text)
    – Hugh
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 13:23
  • @Henly proposed the following comment to edit this Answer.(part one) "I should add that the words we are concerned with are not the nitty gritty legal terms themselves, but the referential words, in other words referring to things that have already been stated, but without going to the effort of stipulating exactly what that is. In other words boilerplate is a sort of legal shorthand. I would highlight: hereinafter, thereof, in witness whereof etc. As for lists, here's a good starting point: wordnik.com/words/heretofore."
    – Hugh
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 13:26
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I think these are mostly considered archaic terms. A more wordy description of things that are described in simpler terms now. Searching for "archaic terms" comes up with several results including http://phrontistery.info/archaic.html

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  • Archaic might apply to notwithstanding and forthwith, but you could hardly say that about whenever, anyway, etc., which are functionally/structurally similar. Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 21:45
  • @FumbleFingers: But the OP didn't ask about those. I think formal/old-fashioned/archaic is what he is looking for. Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 23:51
  • @Cerberus: He asked about words like his two examples. You choose to see that as likeness in the sense of being formal/old-fashioned/archaic, I choose to see it as being compounds formed primarily from prepositions (so we're both right, and I don't think you can argue different! :) Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 1:18
  • @FumbleFingers: Perhaps I can't; but I wasn't trying to: I was just commenting on your complaint that Geo's answer would not apply to those terms you mentioned. You can't argue that he is wrong based on that. Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 1:25
  • @Cerberus: Touché. I shall reverse my downvote! Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 2:23
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Pronominal prepositions is perfect - I was searching for polysyllabic terms that contained modern prepositions like "with", "in", "to", and the French pronom for pronoun confirms this is the correct term as well.

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Transitional adverbs, denoting subordinate or otherwise relationships between ideas and antecedent or referent things. They indicate kinds of causality or consequence.

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Such words might also be regarded as conjunctions I suppose as they serve similarly to known conjunctions like "nevertheless", "in spite of" etc..

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The Dutch language is full of these words. We call words like 'daarvoor' (='therefore), hiervoor (= 'herefore) en hierbij (hereby) 'prenominal adverbs'.

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You have to invent a term of your own for these adverbs. I use the term Satzeinleitung (sentence introduction), eg first of all, actually, to be honest, in any case, and Satzüberleitung (possible translation: sentence transition) such as whereafter, whereby etc.

With your type of adverbs you begin a new sentence or a new idea and refer to the preceding sentence.

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