Disclaimer: English Kinda Thing

The sole purpose of the "English Kinda Thing" is to document my attempts to correct my own mistakes in standard English usage and to share the resources I find. In no way do I attempt to teach nobody English through these blurbs--just as I intend not to teach nobody to be a neurotic and psychotic handicap in Ratology Reloaded or Down with Meds! :-)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Start a sentence with "however"?

Never knew this is a problem... speaking of you don't know what you don't know... 8-O lol

It is an issue for some to start a sentence with "however"?

Apparently, yes, as per the following quote in the NY Times article, "Some Comma Questions," by Ben Yagoda (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/25/some-comma-questions/):
Steve Morse in Oakland, Calif., notes:
You wrote “The weather is great today. However, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.” This was cited as a correct example; however, I was told that what is correct is the construction I am using in this sentence. (“however” after the semi-colon).
Suellen Wideman from Maryland asks:A question about “however.” You began a sentence with however. I thought that a sentence couldn’t begin with however — that it either had to be separated by commas or follow a semicolon. Am I just old-fashioned or wrong?
“Wrong” is a harsh word, but “old-fashioned” seems about right. I was actually not aware that anyone ever held this belief until getting (many) e-mails and comments on the subject. I looked the issue up in the reliable reference book “Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage” and learned that Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” counsels against starting sentences with “however.” (Why it would be acceptable after a semicolon, but not after a period, is baffling to me.) However, virtually every other authority (including Merriam-Webster’s) properly says it’s perfectly okay.

At the same time, the Chicago Manual of Style online gives it an "ok" to start a sentence with "however"  (http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/16/ch05/ch05_sec207.html)

5.207Beginning a sentence with “however”
However has been used as a conjunction since the fourteenth century. Like other conjunctions, it can be used at the beginning of a sentence. But however is more ponderous and has less impact than the simple butHowever is more effectively used within a sentence to emphasize the word or phrase that precedes it {The job seemed exciting at first. Soon, however, it turned out to be exceedingly dull.}.
(To be honest, I never had the "feeling" or knew that the simple "but" has more impact than the longer word "however" until encountering this sentence.  Interesting.)

Now that it is established that, although it is an issue, it is OK to start a sentence with "however" (which I somehow thought it was a given--ignorance is a bless lol).  What one needs to pay attention to is whether a comma is used or not.

When you start a sentence with "however" without a comma, this "however" means "in whatever manner or way" or "to whatever degree or extent":
  • However hard Ratprincess tries, she couldn't help loving her own Bad English.
  • "However much you knock at nature's door, she will never answer you in comprehensible words." (Ivan Turgenev, 1860
When starting a sentence with "however" followed by a comma, "however" means "in spite of that" or "nevertheless":
  • However, Ratprincess just prefers her own Bad English.
  • “It is a great deal easier to go down hill than up. However, they kept on, with unabated perseverance.” (Charles Dickens)
At the same time, if unsure, put however in the middle of your sentence surrounded by commas instead: "Ratprincess, however, just prefers her own Bad English."

However, rules are meant to be broken--yours broken from head to toe might as well go on and happily break them rules. 8-O lol

To end this note, no one in the right mind should ever blindly accept tips on proper English usage from Missy Bad English who is an ESL.  lol

Then, why on earth am I posting all these blurbs under the label of English kinda thing?   To document my learning la!

Please find following the references:

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