âHoweverâ is a useful word, however you look at it. [Sorry â Ed.] But readers of our e-bulletin, Write Away, often ask us to clarify the right ways to use it.
However we can help, say we.
The most common way of using âhoweverâ is to mean âbutâ. This usually comes at the beginning of a sentence, and is followed by a comma.
The calendar claimed the month was May. However, the temperature felt more like November.
For this use, itâs also correct to put it in the middle of the sentence, with commas either side.
It was May. It was, however, very nippy.
Or you can put it at the end, after a comma.
I am normally wearing shorts by this time of year. Iâm afraid of pneumonia, however.
But it is wrong to use âhoweverâ between two parts of a sentence that make sense by themselves.
I look forward to this time of year, however today I have goosebumps is grammatically incorrect. You can use âbutâ here instead, because it is a conjunction (or joining word). âHoweverâ is not a conjunction when it means âbutâ.
I look forward to this time of year. However, today I have goosebumps is grammatically correct.
Meaning âno matter howâ
Another, less common, meaning for âhoweverâ is âno matter howâ. You can use it in the middle of a sentence without a comma after it.
I couldnât bring myself to give up my thermal vest, however tired I was of being teased for it.
You can also put it at the beginning of your sentence, without a comma afterwards.
However you like me to dress, Iâll do the opposite.
Be wary of not accidentally putting a comma after âhoweverâ in this instance, or you could end up saying something quite different.
However, you like me to dress, Iâll do the opposite. [Note: if you do ever want to assert that, while there are people who prefer you clothed, you will always choose to defy them, then that second comma should really be a semi-colon. Or a full stop.]
Meaning âin whatever wayâ
In this form âhoweverâ can be at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence, with no punctuation around it.
Iâm kidding. Iâll dress however youâd like me to. Itâs your mumâs birthday party.
How do I want to travel to Hawaii? However you want. Youâre paying.
When youâre writing a long document, and you need to link from one paragraph to another, itâs easy to fall into the trap of over-using âhoweverâ (meaning âbutâ). Here are some good alternatives to keep your writing varied and fresh:
â˘Â Â Â Nevertheless
â˘Â Â Â On the other hand
â˘Â Â Â But
â˘Â Â Â Yet
â˘Â Â Â Despite
â˘Â Â Â In contrast/comparison.
If youâre ever in doubt about how to use a particular word, or if you have any other business writing questions, post them in our Write Here forum and weâll get back to you as soon as possible. However busy we might be.