'However' beginning a sentence.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Kyroso Fetola, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. Kyroso Fetola Member

    Forgive me if this question has already been asked, but my professor strongly believes "however" is not to be used formally to begin a sentence, and I have heard much debate on this issue. Is it appropriate to begin a sentence with however?
  2. Michel09

    Michel09 Senior Member

    New York, NY
    français - France

    Yes, is acceptable to use however at the beginning of a sentence. You just need to pay attention to the punctuation that follows it :

    "However, ...." means "nevertheless" -- ex. "It is a great deal easier to go down hill than up. However, they kept on, with unabated perseverance.”

    "However ...." means "to whatever extent" -- ex. "However big the fool, there is always a bigger fool to admire him"

    (More information}
  3. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Not if your professor says not to!!!!

    I, personally, have no problem with beginning a sentence with "However"; however, several of my profs (years ago!) told me never to capitalize "however' (meaning, never use it as the first word in a sentence). However, now that I'm a professor, I do what I want to do!
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  4. Michel09

    Michel09 Senior Member

    New York, NY
    français - France
    Ha ha, I almost simply said that it depends on your professor. If they do not like senteces beginning with however, then just "temporarily" do not do it! :D
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  5. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English

    It's not worth fighting with your professor over something so easily resolved, especially when the professor is, as Kyroso states, one who "strongly believes 'however' is not to be used formally to begin a sentence"!!
  6. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    I suspect that this has been discussed before, but if it has, I can't find the thread. (Because I am slow at typing, this information will overlap that in some of the posts above.)

    There are people who would agree with your professor, but many people would not. This is from the usage note from the American Heritage Dictionary:
    Although some grammarians have insisted that however should not be used to begin a sentence, this rule has been ignored by a number of reputable writers. Forty-two percent of Usage Panelists say they do not follow the rule in their own writing, 19 percent say they observe it only sometimes, and 36 percent say they usually observe it.
    BBC Learning English, in its discussion of the use of however, doesn't even mention the issue. In fact, it treats the initial position as the normal one:
    Note that however and nevertheless are normally placed in initial position in a sentence when contrasting two ideas. They can, however, also come in mid position or end position.
  7. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    More than a few people would say it is inelegant to begin a sentence in English with a conjunction. "However" can serve as a conjunction, and that is probably what your professor has in mind. There is, however, another use of "however", and that is as an adverb. There is no objection to beginning a sentence with an adverb, and so there would be no problem with saying, for example, "However carefully I try to eat spaghetti, I always get tomato sauce on my shirt."

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