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Adverbs, conjunctions, Words

Note 2 – Rules for the word ‘however’

I have learnt today that the word however can appear at the beginning or later in a sentence, although my research has led me to believe that there is no fixed rule.  My references below are just a few, but give you an idea of the different meanings of the word, where it can be placed and how it can be used in everyday sentences.

According to Strunk and White (The Elements of Style, fiftieth anniversary edition P48), the adverb however shouldn’t be used first in the sentence if it means “nevertheless”, but the relative adverb however should be used first when meaning “in whatever way” or “to whatever extent”.   

Examples to illustrate this are:

I would like to go to the park today.   It is, however, very cold. [placed later in the sentence when adverb however means nevertheless]

However you look at it, it’s not worth spending that much on fitted wardrobes. [placed first in the sentence when relative adverb however means in whatever way’.]

The online Oxford dictionary’s description of the adverb however is – ‘used to introduce a statement that contrasts with or seems to contradict something that has been said previously’.  In their example, however, they put the word first.  (

I’ve  also looked to see if this rule is in ‘The Little Red Writing Book’ by Brandon Royal.  He doesn’t mention putting the adverb however second in a sentence, but does refer to this word as one of four types of transition words (or traffic light signals).  The word however is used to show contrast.

My thoughts: I picked the word however to blog about because I use it quite a lot in my writing.  I am, however, a bit unsure where I will place this word in my writing if the meaning is ‘nevertheless’ (although it felt right being used second in this sentence).  Being the sort of person who learns by experience, I will continue my research on transition words and will be adding further notes to my blogs in the future. 

Notes from previous blogs: Comments welcome on how I have succeeded in applying yesterday’s note (note 1) to this blog i.e. placing my conclusion in the first paragraph.  I did, however, learn a further note on this topic today.  Brandon Royal adds (in his solution on P145 in the ‘The Little Red Writing Book’) that you can have the conclusion at the end, rather than the beginning, if it’s a short writing piece. He explains that the reason you could get away with it, is because writing is an art not a science. 

Must sign off now, as I have to get up early for work tomorrow.  A big thank you to those who are showing interest and subscribing to my blogs so far.  I really appreciate you taking the time to read them.

Until tomorrow…..


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Reference list

William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White The Elements of Style, fiftieth anniversary edition (2009), USA

Brandon Royal (2004) The Little Red Writing Book, USA

Online Oxford dictionary


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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