today I got into a discussion with a colleague of mine about if it's correct to end a sentence with "however". Here's the case:

"I've attached the following document. I don't think it'll be useful, however".

Although I think the sentence could be better written, I don't think it's wrong to use "however" ending it.

My colleague's opinion is that it would be better to use "though" on it.

So, I have 2 questions:

1) Is it ok to use "however" in the end of a sentence, with the same meaning of "though" ?

2) Which one is better in this case, "however" or "though" ?

Thank you!

closed as off-topic by Robusto, anongoodnurse, user66974, tchrist Nov 18 '16 at 13:37

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    You should be able to answer this question by looking in a dictionary.Go here and scroll down to the part that starts "Unlike however, sin embargo and no obstante can never end a sentence." – Robusto Nov 17 '16 at 21:14
  • As @Robusto specified, It can be used to start or end the sentence. Though is a synonym of However and has the same status and can also be used in either situation. – Hank Nov 17 '16 at 21:21
  • 2
    Given the history of criticism that usage commentators have leveled against using however at the beginning of sentences, I think this is an interesting and useful question. I recommend leaving it open. – Sven Yargs Nov 17 '16 at 22:18
  • There's nothing wrong with it, and it's probably better than most of the suggested alternatives. – Hot Licks Nov 17 '16 at 22:36
  • @Hank Sentence-initial however in this sense needs a comma, but sentence-initial though resists one. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 18 '16 at 0:21

The word however is not inherently ungrammatical at any specific point in a sentence (beginning, middle, or end, for example); its grammaticality depends on the context in which it appears.

Nevertheless, as a matter of style, many commentators have criticized the practice of beginning a sentence with however. Bryan Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage, second edition (2003), addresses this issue:

however. A. Beginning Sentences with. It seems everyone has heard that sentences should not begin with this word—not, that is, when a contrast is intended. But doing so isn't a grammatical error; it's merely a stylistic lapse, the word But ordinarily being much preferable. [Internal cross reference omitted.] The reason is that However—three syllables followed by a comma—is a ponderous way of introducing a contrast, and it leads to unemphatic sentences.

In part B of his discussion, Garner argues that however naturally emphasizes the word immediately preceding it in a sentence—and this leads him to consider the merits of putting however at or near the end of a sentence:

C. Undue Delay in the Sentence. Because of the point established in (B), it's quite unwise to put the however very far into a long sentence. The cure is an initial But—e.g.: "We use data only for individuals from the former West Germany in this study, however, and restrict our attention to data reported for the years prior to 1989, the year of reunification."

But again, this is all style advice, not grammatical analysis. The sentence you give as an example—

I don't think it'll be useful, however.

—is short, and your positioning of however in it emphasizes the appropriate word (useful). Under the circumstances, I don't think it is any less effective than saying

But I don't think it'll be useful.

and I certainly don't see any reason (other than personal stylistic preference) to reject it in favor of

I don't think it'll be useful, though.


Your sentence is fine. I prefer your use of "however" to using "though," even though fewer syllables is often better. In your sentence, perhaps it's the cadence, perhaps the greater emphasis created by lingering on the word a bit longer. It is certainly not an error.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.