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Can You Start a Sentence with "However"?

By
Mignon Fogarty

Can You Start a Sentence with

 

Although you may have heard otherwise, it's fine to start a sentence with "however." You just need to know when to use a comma because "however" can mean two different things, and if you don't get the comma right, you risk confusing your readers. 

If you use "however" at the beginning of a sentence without a comma, "however" means "in whatever manner" or "to whatever extent."  

  • However hard Anne Hathaway tried, she couldn't liven up a robotic James Franco during the Oscars.

If you use "however" at the beginning of a sentence with a comma, "however" means "nevertheless"

  • However, I loved all seven of Anne's Oscar dresses (plus the tuxedo). 

For more on how to use the word "however," including how to use it in the middle of a sentence and with semicolons, see my article here.

 

 

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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