Mastering 'However' in Grammar

Comma Before or After However: Mastering English Grammar in Simple Steps

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Derek Cupp

By Derek Cupp

Ever found yourself questioning, “Should I place the comma before or after ‘however’?”. You’re not alone. This seemingly small punctuation conundrum has stumped many an English language enthusiast and professional alike. But fear not! Today, I’m here to unravel this mystery for you.

Mastering English grammar is no small feat – it’s a complex labyrinth of rules and exceptions that can sometimes feel overwhelming. Yet, as with any challenge, understanding the nuances can make all the difference. One such nuance is knowing how to accurately use ‘however’ in a sentence.

Whether we’re drafting an important business email or simply texting a friend, our goal remains clear: effective communication. And that’s where correct punctuation, especially around words like ‘however,’ becomes crucially important. Let’s dive into the details together and turn this grammatical stumbling block into stepping stone!

Understanding the Use of ‘However’ in English Grammar

Many folks, even native English speakers, often find themselves tangled up when it comes to using ‘however’ correctly in a sentence. It’s not as complicated as it might seem at first glance.

The word ‘however’ is a versatile adverb that can be used to introduce a contrast or contradiction in your writing. When you’re crafting sentences and want to show a shift or opposition between two ideas, well, that’s where ‘however’ steps into the spotlight.

Let me give you an example. Say we’ve got these two statements: “I love dogs.” and “I don’t own one.” To connect them with contrast, we could say: “I love dogs; however, I don’t own one.”

Now let’s talk about where to place that pesky comma when using ‘however’. If you’re starting your sentence with ‘however’, then the rule of thumb is to follow it with a comma. Like this: “However, I didn’t go to the party.”

If you’re using it in the middle of a sentence though, things change slightly. You’ll need commas on both sides of ‘however’. Here’s how it works: “I wanted to go hiking today**; however,** the weather had other plans.”

There are exceptions too! Sometimes ‘however’ isn’t being used as an adverb at all but instead means ‘no matter how’. In this case, no comma is needed before or after it – for instance: “You may try however hard you like.”

To summarize:

  • Start sentence with ‘However,’ – use 1 comma.

  • Middle sentence ‘; however,’ – use 2 commas.

  • Meaning ‘no matter how’ – no commas!

With practice and patience, you’ll master this aspect of English grammar before you know it!

Comma Placement with ‘However’: Before or After?

Let’s unravel the mystery of comma usage with ‘however’. You’ve probably seen it both ways, right? Sometimes the comma pops up before ‘however’, and other times, it appears right after. So what’s the deal? Is there a hard and fast rule, or is this another one of those confusing English grammar conundrums that leaves us scratching our heads?

Well, I’m here to shed some light on this topic. The placement of the comma depends on how you’re using ‘however’ in your sentence. If ‘however’ is being used as a transition word to connect two independent clauses (i.e., each could stand alone as a separate sentence), then it should be preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma. Here are some examples:

  • “I love ice cream; however, I can’t eat it because I’m lactose intolerant.”

  • “My dog hates water; however, he loves snow.”

Now if you’re using ‘however’ to mean ‘in whatever way’ or ‘to whatever extent,’ then no commas are needed at all. Check out these examples:

  • “You can dress however you want for the party.”

  • “Cook the steak however you like best.”

Lastly, when we use ‘however’ as an interruption within sentences – sort of like dropping an aside into the middle – we place commas both before and after ‘however’. Like so:

  • “I am not much of a swimmer. My sister, however, swims like a fish.”

  • “They don’t typically allow pets in this building. Their policy on service animals, however, is more flexible.”

So remember: how you use ‘however’ determines where your commas go!

Conclusion: Mastering Comma Usage with ‘However’

Mastering the use of commas around ‘however’ might seem like a small detail. But in reality, it’s part of a larger journey towards impeccable English grammar. It’s this attention to detail that differentiates good writing from great writing.

Correctly placing a comma before or after ‘however’ is all about understanding what you’re trying to say. If you’re using ‘however’ to link two independent clauses, you’ll need that comma before it. To illustrate:



I love ice cream however I am lactose intolerant.

I love ice cream, however, I am lactose intolerant.

On the flip side, if ‘however’ is functioning as an adverb within a sentence—meaning something akin to “in whatever way” or “to whatever extent”—there’s no need for a comma at all.



You can mix those ingredients, however you want.

You can mix those ingredients however you want.

Getting your head around these rules isn’t just about precision—it’s also about clarity and flow. When used right, punctuation marks like commas don’t just obey grammatical laws—they help guide your reader through your sentences smoothly and effortlessly.

So there we have it! A whirlwind tour of how to correctly use the comma with ‘however’. As with any aspect of language learning, practice makes perfect—and soon enough, correct usage will become second nature!

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