However, Nevertheless.../ Be that as it may...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Sextus, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Sextus Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    1) I'd like to ask you if, besides being more or less formal, there is an important semantic difference between "however", "nevertheless", and "nonetheless".

    2) Is there any difference between "be that as it may" and "however that may be"?


  2. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    1) No, I don't think so.
    2) Not much, but I think that "however that may be" suggests that what has been said is probably true (but irrelevant) whereas "be that as it may" just means it is irrelevant, we don't know if the speaker thinks it is true or not. "Be that as it may" is more common I think.
  3. luis masci

    luis masci Banned

    I always have the same doubt too. “However” , “nevertheless” and “nonetheless”, are totally interchangeable each other?
  4. boonognog Senior Member

    Charlotte, NC
    English (U.S.)
    Something in the recesses of my mind is compelling me to say that "nevertheless" and "nonetheless" are used as a way of saying "in spite of that"... which is a bit different than "be that as it may".

    I agree that "be that as it may" has a tone of saying that the thing is deemed irrelevant/extraneous.
  5. KittyCatty

    KittyCatty Senior Member

    English UK
    Nevertheless is more like keeping some continuity in what you are saying, such as 'I don't want these, but nevertheless I have got them', it kind of means, in spite of all this. But 'however' can completely change your point. 'He likes girls with green eyes. However, his girlfriend has brown eyes.' Yet to some extent, the words are interchangeable. I probably haven't explained myself that well. It sounded good in my head!!
  6. gotitadeleche Senior Member

    Texas, U.S.A.
    U.S.A. English
    This is a very interesting discussion; I have nearly broken my head trying to figure out the differences between however and nevertheless. They are not entirely interchangeable, but I was not sure why and dictionaries have not helped.

    I agree with your comment above; however, it is a little more complicated than that. I think however can also have the meaning of "in spite of that," such as in the sentence "The days have been bleak and dreary; however/nevertheless, tomorrow is another day and spring is around the corner." But however also has an "on the other hand" meaning that nevertheless doesn't: "I think I will wear my red sweater; however, the blue one is warmer." I am interested to hear what others have to say.
  7. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    However can be used at the beginning of a sentence meaning 'no matter how' or 'in whatever way,' but it never takes a comma: However I try to change this tire, I always fail.
  8. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    There is not much difference between "however" and "nevertheless" and they can often be used interchangeably. Here is one difference:

    "However" begins a statement with negative connotations that qualifies a preceding positive statement. E.g. I am rich; however, I don't like to spend money

    "Nevertheless" is the opposite, i.e. begins a statement with positive connotations following a negative statement. E.g. I don't know much Spanish, nevertheless I find ways to communicate with Spanish people.

    "Be that as it may" is rather less common, and I've never seen or heard "however that may be".
    You might also consider the similar expresions "notwithstanding" and "on the other hand".
  9. sir archie Banned

    no , no difference at all.
  10. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Did you read any of the thread above which shows that this is demonstrably untrue?:rolleyes:
  11. sir archie Banned

    yes I read the thread, that is why I commented.
    Do you believe everything that you read to be demonstratively true?
    I believe my eyes, my ears and my experience of life.

    No, there is no difference at all.
  12. moo mouse Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English UK
    I disagree with your points regarding however and nevertheless being a positive/negative thing; indeed there are subtle differences between them but I don't think they can be as easily defined as you have tried. I would certainly say "I don't speak much Spanish, however, I find ways to communicate with Spanish people."
    I might also say "I am extremely rich. Nevertheless, I hate to spend money."
    It is very hard to define what the differences are between these words (except 'however that may be' which I have never heard either).

    I also disagree with the point made earlier that however never takes a comma. For example:
    The previous night they had decided they would go to the beach. However, when they woke up it was pouring with rain and they decided not to go.
  13. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    No, I make my own evaluations. The posts above gave their opinion that there were differences, and backed those opinions up with examples that I find ring true. You made one unsupported assertion - opinion without reason I certainly discount.
  14. sir archie Banned

    refer to previous posting.
  15. liliput

    liliput Senior Member

    U.K. English
    As noticed by moo mouse (among others), and as I mentioned in my post, "nevertheless" and "however" are often interchangeable. My definition clearly isn't a concrete one. Nevertheless, sir archie is incorrect in saying that there is no difference at all. Whilst the differences are certainly difficult to define, there are instances where it is better to use one rather than the other, compare the following:
    1)I earn a lot of money, nevertheless it's still not enough to support my children.
    2)I earn a lot of money, however it's still not enough to support my children.
    I think most people will agree that the second sentence sounds better than the first, even if they're not sure why. Personally, I think that in this case having "nevertheless" followed by "not" seems a little like a double negative and for this reason sounds strange.
    sir archie, I'm with timpeac - back your assertions up with some solid argument and examples instead of simply dismissing other people's opinions.
  16. sir archie Banned

    I am very sorry, I can not and do not feel the need to do so.
    All that I can say to you is that in my experience , and in the world in which I live , speaking the language which I speak , in Great Britain , (which I know counts for nothing at all, eccept context,) there is absolutely no differenc at all between the phrases quoted. They ARE interchangable in my experience of the english language , no matter how limitted that may be. It might be advantageous to remember that english is spoken far more widely that it may be recorded by academics, or their research.
    I hope that this may help with your understanding. Thank you .
  17. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    What a strange thing to say. In reply I can only say refer to my previous reply to your previous posting.
  18. sir archie Banned

    Exactly. I am in complete accord. I would refer you to my previous postings.
    I am very sorry that you find what I have to say "strange" in any way , shape or form. That can only be as a result of your understanding , as far as I am concerned , as I have said all that I can say. Adios.
  19. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    What a relief.
  20. sir archie Banned

    Don`t be rude. It is forbidden.
  21. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    Ah, so this wasn't all you could say then;)
  22. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Used to contrast two clauses, I find little if any difference, though to my ear nevertheless is sometimes more concessionary of the value of the first clause. That is, 'however' tends to dismiss the meaning stated in the initial clause entirely, while 'nonetheless' accepts that it has some value, while firmly disagreeing.

    Try it out in a sentence of your choosing and test whether you hear that very slight distinction.

    There are other differences. Take this sentence--

    Our defeat was expected but it is disappointing nevertheless. I defy any native speaker of any variant of English to substitute however at the end of that sentence and tell us it sounds perfectly natural.

    However can be used to express the idea of "to whatever extent". However much you protest, you cannot begin this sentence with the word 'nevertheless'.

    Try switching the two in this sentence:

    You may set your schedule for the next month however you please.

    That last one is not contrastive, and is clearly an adverbial use. Nonetheless is also adverbial at times, and the two words are not easily interchangeable as adverbs.

  23. moo mouse Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English UK
    I absolutely agree with you, except on that very last example -
    I would never write that, instead I would write:

    You may set your schedule for the next month how ever you please.

    This is not the original use of the word however, and what it has come to mean, but rather it is a recent American development - the joining of the two words how and ever. However, I do agree with the other differences between however and nevertheless that you have outlined with well chosen examples.
  24. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I'm not convinced that this usage is AE. Here's a snippet from OALD, with none of their
    references to AmerEn. "2 in whatever way: However you look at it, it’s going to cost a lot."
    If we follow the example you offered, should we change that to "in what ever way"?;)

    They do draw a distinction-

    I'm not sure that setting a schedule puts much emphasis on 'how'.
  25. moo mouse Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English UK
    Well if you google 'however' specifying uk only pages, there are no examples of this use that I can see, but pages from the US are full of such usage. I am sure this is an American usage and that we Brits don't use however in this way. Anyone else agree?
  26. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Google supports your position, with a very few exceptions (what I would call 'statistical dust'):

    Web Results 1 - 10 of about 15 for "do it however you like"
    Your search - "do it how ever you like" - did not match any documents.

    Your search - "do it how ever you please" - did not match any documents.
    Results 1 - 1 of 1 for "do it however you please"
    Results 1 - 10 of about 51 for "do it however you please"
  27. Kublakhan New Member

    Just a quick addition to this thread. One way of expressing a possible difference between "however" and "nevertheless"is that "however" is closer to "but" and "nevertheless" is closer to "all things considered". The sentence above "Our defeat was expected but it is disappointing nevertheless." already has "however" in a sense, in the form of "but".

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