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The following is a paragraph from an online article:

I don’t know whether Closca will succeed in this: although its foldable bike helmet is available in some outlets in New York, including the Museum of Modern Art, it can be very hard for any design entrepreneur to really take off in the mass market. But Ferrando’s story fascinates me since it seems like a bellwether of our times, a symbol of millennial culture. For one thing, it shows how the cultural concept of cachet is changing. Three decades ago, conspicuous consumption — of handbags, shoes, cars etc — conferred social status. Indeed, the closing decades of the 20th century were a time when it seemed that anything could be turned into a commodity. Hence the fact that water became a consumer item, sold in plastic bottles, instead of just emerging (for free) from a tap.

I have difficulties parsing the very last sentence:

Hence the fact that water became a consumer item, sold in plastic bottles, instead of just emerging (for free) from a tap.

Does this sentence have a subject? It seems that there is only one clause ("the fact that ...") there. Is there something omitted? (Is it a grammatically correct sentence? If yes, I would also appreciate similar examples.)

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  • The 'fragment' starting 'hence' is infelicitous at best.
    – Mitch
    Aug 1, 2022 at 20:13
  • Try this: ludwig.guru/s/hence
    – Lambie
    Aug 1, 2022 at 20:59
  • 2
    As a fragment, it works as a follow-on to the previous thought. It sets up a conversational tone: "Oh, and this ..." Aug 1, 2022 at 21:16
  • What is the problem you're having parsing that? Therefore this question.
    – tchrist
    Aug 1, 2022 at 22:35
  • @tchrist: Maybe it is more appropriate to write it as "I have difficulties in understanding" the sentence. I may be asking an imprecise question (due to not understanding ( the grammar of) the sentence, which, is the reason why I ask...) What puzzles me is that there is no verb and no subject but just one clause of the whole "sentence". fev's answer below seems to address my puzzle well.
    – anon
    Aug 2, 2022 at 2:09

4 Answers 4

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Hence is an adverb, not a conjunction, so it is not necessarily followed by a clause. This language site explains

There is a more common meaning of “hence”, which substitutes a verb but is not a clause in itself and is always separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma:

  • Our server was down, hence the delay in responding.
  • The chemicals cause the rain to become acidic, hence the term “acid rain”.

As you can see, “hence” substitutes phrases such as “which leads to” or “which is the reason of”.

Cambridge gives a similar example, defining hence as meaning

that is the reason or explanation for:

  • His mother was Italian, hence his name - Luca.

What is particular about your passage, is that hence does not follow a comma, but begins a new sentence. This source also gives examples of hence after commas, explaining that:

Hence also has a special function in introducing bare noun phrases. Note that in these cases, no comma is required if hence follows the word 'and'.

  • The electricity supply industry is the major consumer of fossil fuels and hence the major source of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK.
  • Fuel cells convert gaseous fuels into DC electricity by an electrochemical process. There are no moving parts, hence no noise and vibrations.

Since hence introduces a bare noun phrase, it does not need a subject. Water is only the subject of the relative clause modifying the noun the fact. It is not the subject of the sentence.

We can re-write the last example as

Fuel cells convert gaseous fuels into DC electricity by an electrochemical process. There are no moving parts. Hence no noise and vibrations.

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    "His mother was Italian, hence his name - Luca." is natural. But I would find it confusing to write, for instance, "His mother was Italian. Hence his name - Luca."
    – anon
    Aug 1, 2022 at 20:01
  • Yes, it is not always the best solution. But it does occur and quite commonly in more formal examples as I have shown.
    – fev
    Aug 1, 2022 at 20:02
  • +1. Thanks. This seems related to nomial sentence (a concept that I just found), doesn't it?
    – anon
    Aug 1, 2022 at 20:05
  • Not exactly, though there are similarities. It is simply an "incomplete" sentence, but which cannot be denied the name of a sentence. We do this with relatives beginning with "which is/means/etc". I am new here, which is why I need your help can be and is often re-written as I am new here . Which is why I need your help
    – fev
    Aug 1, 2022 at 20:17
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    I think it is rather a case of truncated sentence.
    – fev
    Aug 1, 2022 at 20:42
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Hence the fact that water became a consumer item, sold in plastic bottles, instead of just emerging (for free) from a tap.

"Hence" is a preposition here, thus the whole expression is a preposition phrase headed by the preposition "hence" whose object complement is the noun phrase the fact that water became a consumer item, sold in plastic bottles, instead of just emerging (for free) from a tap.

"Fact" has the declarative content clause that water became a consumer item, sold in plastic bottles, instead of just emerging (for free) from a tap as its complement. Although this is a finite (tensed) clause, it is complement of "fact", and not a subject.

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Hence is an adverb

Cambridge
hence
that is the reason or explanation for

Substituting this meaning directly in your prose gives:

That is the reason or explanation for the fact that water became ...

From which we see easily that "Hence" is acting as a demonstrative in the same way as "that", and that it refers to the preceding material, which gives the contextual reason or explanation for the assertion that follows "Hence".

Simple parallels are:
I am deaf. Hence I cannot enjoy music.
I am blind. Hence I need a guide dog.

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"Hence", among adverbs, is a conjunct, which means that it serves as a connection with what precedes. The part "hence the fact" is a clause in which the verb is missing ; "that" is the conjunction. The missing verb is any likely verb such as "result" and "follow". The subject of that verb is "the fact", it is in reverse order (the verb precedes).

  • Hence follows the fact that water became a consumer item, sold in plastic bottles, instead of just emerging (for free) from a tap.

Using such a verb is also a possibility. (here are plenty of examples.)

(ref.) Hence follows the very interesting theorem : The planes normal , at the successive points (Hence the very interesting theorem : The planes normal , at the successive points.)

(ref.) By this system the lines of bow are much blunter than by the wave - line theory , and those of the stern are finer , and hence follows the general features of the fish ;
(By this system the lines of bow are much blunter than by the wave - line theory , and those of the stern are finer , and hence the general features of the fish ;)

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  • Surely "hence" is a preposition with the NP "the fact that water became a consumer item, sold in plastic bottles ..." as its object complement.
    – BillJ
    Aug 2, 2022 at 8:50

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