Friday, March 09, 2007

Today's English lesson

From the American Heritage Book of English Usage:

"However" equal to
"Nevertheless" -- can it be true?

However beginning a sentence.
Sailing in rough weather can be very unpleasant. However, we found it exciting.
Some people say you should never begin a sentence with however when it means “nevertheless” or “on the other hand.” They are probably in the minority. We asked the usage panelists if they observed this rule. Thirty-six percent said “usually or always,” 19 percent said “sometimes,” and 42 percent said “rarely or never.”


Looks as though you're in the clear if you choose to use "however" to begin a sentence. I, however, think I'm leaning toward the "don't begin a sentence with it" side. I think that common usage has made it acceptable; however, if one wishes to be highly accurate and unambiguous, the word should be replaced with "nevertheless" at the beginning of a sentence if it's completely necessary. Nevertheless, use it freely as you feel comfortable doing so, and you won't be going against any hard-and-fast rules.

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