“However” in academic writing – use and misuse

 

In essay and dissertation writing, academics and students often have to use connectors.

 

“However” is a key one of those. But, regrettably, it is frequently misused. I will provide an explanation supplemented with illustrative examples.

 


“However” = “Nonetheless”

 

 

When “However” is used as synonymous with “Nonetheless”, it must not be preceded by a comma. It must be preceded a semicolon and followed by a comma, as below.

 

 

Wrong: This proofreader is very good at thesis proofreading, however he did not spot all mistakes in my thesis.

 

Correct: This proofreader is very good at thesis proofreading; however, he did not spot all mistakes in my thesis.

 

Wrong: Dissertation editing is extremely important, however I did not have my dissertation edited.

 

Correct: Dissertation editing is extremely important; however, I did not have my dissertation edited.

 

 

Also, when meaning “Nonetheless”, “However” can be preceded by a full stop and followed by a comma, as below.

 

Wrong: He knew that his English skills were not up to standard, however he did not try to improve them.

 

Correct: He knew that his English skills were not up to standard. However, he did not try to improve them.

 

Wrong: The English language is very useful, however many people do not try to learn it.

 

Correct: The English language is very useful. However, many people do not try to learn it.

 

 

“However” = “Despite the fact that”

 

 

Some academics use “However” in their essays, dissertations and scientific papers as meaning “Despite the fact that”.

 

Below are a few examples to illustrate its correct use.

 

Wrong: However, smart he is, he failed to pass the English test.

 

Correct: However smart he is, he failed to pass the English test.

 

 

Wrong: However smart, he is, he failed to pass the English test.

 

Correct: However smart he is, he failed to pass the English test.