Can You Start a Sentence with "However"?

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

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 Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.