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Punctuation tip: How to use “however”

Posted by Maria Murnane | September 14, 2015

Knowing which punctuation to use with the word “however” is tricky. However, it’s important to get it correct, so here’s a brief explanation.

As demonstrated above, when “however” means “in spite of that” and appears at the beginning of a sentence, it is followed by a comma.

For example: However, it’s important to get it correct, so here’s a brief explanation.

When “however” means “in spite of that” but appears in the middle of a sentence, it is preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma.

For example: Knowing which punctuation to use with the word “however” is tricky; however, it’s important to get it correct, so here’s a brief explanation.

If “however” is in the middle of a sentence and can be removed without affecting the meaning of the sentence, it is preceded and followed by a comma.

For example: If you’d like to learn how to write correctly, however, please read this blog post.

Still confused? Understandable! Here are some more examples that show the difference:

INCORRECTWe were losing by 10 runs, however we came back and won the game.

CORRECT: We were losing by 10 runs; however, we came back and won the game.

ALSO CORRECT: We were losing by 10 runs. However, we came back and won the game.

INCORRECT: I really didn’t think we were going to win the game, however I was clearly wrong.

CORRECT: I really didn’t think we were going to win the game; however, I was clearly wrong.

ALSO CORRECT: I really didn’t think we were going to win the game. However, I was clearly wrong.

Note: the same rules apply for “nevertheless,” “nonetheless,” etc.

The only time “however” doesn’t require a comma afterward is when it serves as an adverb. For example:

CORRECT: I don’t want to forgive her, however sorry she may be.

CORRECT: However he decides to get here, he’d better get here fast.

Believe me, I realize that knowing how to use “however” correctly can be quite confusing. However, if you keep this blog post handy, you might not have as much trouble!

-Maria

 

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2015 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

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