Poll: 'However' is a conjunction.

'However' is a conjunction.


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This Poll:

  • Votes: 2,559
  • Comments: 37
  • Added: September 2003



'However' was once a conjunction, but ever since 'I did it, however I don't know why' became an incorrect sentence, it can no longer be considered to be one as conjunctions join two sentences into one and certainly do not require semi-colons.


The word "however" is acceptable in use as a conjunction where it can be used as a replscement for either "but" or "nevertheless" . This has been accepted by the Oxford Dictionary (the big one with 30 odd volumes, not the stupid little dictionaries most people have at school) since approximately 1630. People who say otherwise are arguing against English professors and lecturers all over the world. Consult a world expert on the history of English - and not just your average, poorly educated, ignorant school teacher - and you will find the real asnwer.


There was no Oxford dictionary in 1630.


So much for ignorance and education :-)


To be precise, I think that 'however' is a conjunctive adverb. When used as a conjunction, it needs stronger punctuation than a simple conjunction like 'but' (the easiest form is to put it in another sentence). As an adverb, it can wander around positionally in a sentence in a way that a conjunction cannot. For more see web.cn.edu/kwheeler/grammar_subordin
ate.html, for example.


Back in the day, I was taught that "however" was a conjunction to be used with commas both before and after it. Its current common usage at the beginning of a sentence (followed by a comma) was considered incorrect. When copyediting scientific manuscripts, I allow this incorrect usage to stand, but I sigh and my heart aches.

Rafeeq O. McGiveron

Ah, Judy, my sweet friend and colleague, I must agree with Piwi's post of 16 June 08. Despite the assertions of the oh-so-learned Elste of 2006, I maintain that present-day American English requires a semicolon when independent clauses are joined with "however." If, however, the word is like this, then as Piwi points out, it of course "can wander around positionally..." I guess we're all in agreement on this latter case, at least.


Yes, it's a conjuctive adverb. I agree. I was looking around online to make sure this was still correct, as my students keep using it as a conjunction, and even though it seems to be up for debate, I'm glad to see there are some that still agree with me. My highschool English teacher was too obsessed with grammar to be wrong!


im agree, however is a conjuction.


it' s true that however is a conjunction.


It is a coordinating adverb. It is NOT a conjunction. See: http://www.fortunecity.com/bally/dur


I don't know what part of speech it is, However, however I use it is correct, I'm sure, for that's how everyone uses it.

Lisa Michel Smith

i knew it was a conjuction


It's not a conjunction. You can't use 'however' in the middle of a sentence as a replacement for the word 'but'. Just think about it. How would you say it? There's clearly a need for a stronger break, which is why it would have to be preceded by a full-stop or, at the very least, a semi-colon.


The fact that is can wander around in the sentence proves that it is not a conjunction. You cannot write, "I went to the store it, but, was closed." You can write, "I went to the store; it, however, was closed."


I love and hate the English language. As a teacher, I have found there are so many exceptions to all the rules in the English language. The English language has been an evolving, growing and dynamic organism of communication. This is why the Oxford Dictionary needs to be updated quite regulary. The question comes down to this, "Does the use of the word make communication of a meaning or intent to someone else possible?" or alternatively "Will someone know what I have said?". Just look at morse code, two way radio, text messaging, computer language et al. They all adapt the English language for their context.
In the end, I believe it can be used as a conjunction, however it could be argued about until the English language dies out.


je pense que vous dites n'importe quoi. "however" est bien une conjuction.. si s'en est pas une, c'est quoi alors ? HEIN ?


There is no doubt that however is not a conjunction, just as nevertheless is not a conjunction. They are both adverbs.


How can so many get it wrong!

moira kelman

It cannot be used instead of "but". If you want to use it to mean "but",you will need to start a new sentence with it. Otherwise, place it between commas. Simple


The current advice from university lecturers to first-year undergraduates is that they should avoid using "however" as a conjunction. See the bottom of the following page:


Bill Murray

'However' is a contrastive discourse marker and (as such) can go at the beginning of a sentence:

"However, you will probably disagree with this suggestion."

John Bruce

'However' can not start a sentence if it is immediately followed by a comma, as it relates two things, and if the one following is separated by a comma, so must the one preceding it (or possibly a semi colon). The only time you can start a sentence with 'however' is if it is the start of the clause stating the first of the two elements.

Yes, it can

@John Bruce
Of course it can- it relates to the previous sentence.


However is definitely not a conjunction. You can only use it in the middle of a sentence if it's preceded by a semi-colon or if you mean 'on the other hand', 'contrary to that' or something similar. In that case it would have commas either side of it. However does not mean the exact same thing as but; people who say it does are wrong.


"However" cannot be used as a conjunction in its normal function. It is usually used to express contrast (similar to but, although, etc.). In this case, "however" is a conjunctive adjective. It demonstrates contrast between TWO SEPARATE SENTENCES. For stylistic reasons, those sentences may be combined with a semicolon. It can, however, be used as a conjunction when tis meaning is "in any manner." Example: "YOU MAY NOT USE THIS WORD HOWEVER YOU WANT." Here it is a conjunction, but does not express contrast. "But", however, can be used as a conjunction or as a conjunctive adjective. This is why "but" can always replace "however" but "however" can only sometimes replace "but." Don't make my job as an English teacher more difficult by confirming my students errors! Thank you.


Very many academics mistakingly use "however" as a conjunction, because they think "but" sounds too low-brow. Unfortunately, they are just demonstrating that they do not know the formal rules of the language.


It's a conjunctive adverb. It is not a coordinating conjunction, such as 'and,' 'but,' or 'so,' so it behaves differently. Because it functions adverbially, it's free to move around the sentence more (beginning, middle, end). The farther in it goes, the weaker its contrastive sense becomes.


The person who submitted the comment about the appearance of 'however' in the OED wasn't saying the OED existed in 1630. The comment was referring to the first known date when 'however' appears in a work of literature. The OED traces the roots of some words back as far as Anglo-Saxon English--over a thousand years. At the very least, read up on the project. And if you want a good story about it (nonfiction), read 'The Professor and the Madman.'


I stand corrected. 'However' is, indeed, a conjunction but not a coordinating conjunction. That, however, is how many people use it and what irritates me so much.


Bloviating pontification notwithstanding, *nowhere* in the big OED is "however" mentioned as a conjunction. It's very clearly an adverb, and all of the examples present it as such.


However is NOT a conjunction -- not now, not ever. Period. End of story. However, I could be wrong...


Voting is not proof of proper grammar. Read "The Elements of Style" by the one true authority on proper grammar and good style, William Strunk, Jr., former professor of English at Cornell. He explains clearly that however should never begin a sentence, unless the meaning is "in whatever way" or "to whatever extent." For those meanings, use however parenthetically with a comma before and after it, such as "I did, however, expect you to notice". Think about the rule for combining two independent clauses with a conjunction: a comma PRECEDES the conjunction and never does a comma follow the conjunction, unless you are adding a parenthetical element: "He is tall, but, as we know, he is poor at basketball." Would you write "He is tall, however he is poor at basketball"? Of course not. Those who begin a sentence with however and hope it is a conjunction are simply copying others' mistake of hoping they have found a haughty synonym for the lowly "but". Just use but. The language is plagued with errors nowadays ("He asked my wife and I to..."), and substituting however for but is one of these ever-growing many.


If the general public is asked to vote on proper grammar and good style, we will soon have "irregardless" in our poorly vetted dictionaries and "I could care less" or "My father is a man who..." accepted as logical.

Public Enemy

However, ordinary people speak a language, and it doesn't just belong to the elite.


l/10.1177/0075424218817811. I think you guys will love this study! It looks like our forty years of moving "however" to the front of our sentences has altered how we are actually using the word, which is more as a conjunction. It still has all its conjunctive adverb, parenthetical attributes as well.


Also, to respond to a comment made above, Strunk is not the one true expert. Strunk also called "meaningful" a "bankrupt adjective" and "prestigious" an "adjective of last resort. It's in the dictionary, but that doesn't mean you have to use it." Language changes, and pretty much the only "experts" are the ones documenting and describing how its conventions and meanings are altering. Other than that, you have a few people telling you how the people trying to control its change believe the "prestigious" people should use it, in order to appear "prestigious." There are times that I agree Strunk's distinctions make sense and maintain word nuance that adds value to the language, but when those nuances slip and that slip begins to create a communication barrier that requires fixing, the speakers always eventually call in other words and conventions to fill the gap. The OED is full of words with now absolute usages, and the "prestigious" people's academic papers are now full of "however" in initial-clause placement.

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