Crafting Better Sentences: Use “Although” Carefully

Although is a marvelous word that – alas – even professional writers sometimes use incorrectly. Train your writing radar to keep a mental lookout for although, and follow these simple rules:

1. Never put a comma after although.

Beware of writing something like this:

I decided to accept the job offer. Although, I had some doubts about the company’s stability. INCORRECT

Here’s the correct version:

I decided to accept the job offer although I had some doubts about the company’s stability. CORRECT

You could also write it this way:

I decided to accept the job offer. However, I had some doubts about the company’s stability. CORRECT

2. Always attach an although idea to a complete sentence. Anything that starts with although is an extra idea. It can’t stand alone: You have to attach it to a complete sentence. (Think of a garage – nice to have, but you need a house to go with it.)

Although I had some doubts about the company’s stability. I decided to accept the job offer.  INCORRECT

Although I had some doubts about the company’s stability, I decided to accept the job offer.  CORRECT

3. Yes, you can start a sentence with although! If you start a sentence with an although idea, end the idea with a comma, and follow it with a real sentence.

Suppose you wrote “Although the hurricane was headed our way.” This is an extra idea that can’t end with a period. What to do?

Your first choice is to end it with a comma and add a real sentence. (Think garage + house, as I mentioned earlier.) Here’s what you might have when you’re finished:

Although the hurricane was headed our way last night, early this morning it turned north and missed Florida completely. CORRECT

Another choice would be to put your extra idea at the back of a real sentence. In that case you wouldn’t use a comma. Here’s the result:

Early this morning the hurricane turned north and missed Florida completely although it was headed our way last night. CORRECT

4. Sometimes you can fix an although mistake just by substituting however. Nothing fancy is required: Just use a period and a capital letter.

Here’s a sentence that needs fixing (never put a comma after although, and never leave an although idea hanging out there by itself).

Gloria has been madly in love with Chuck ever since he showed up in her algebra class. Although, he’s not interested in her at all. INCORRECT

Substitute however, and you’re done! Take a look:

Gloria has been madly in love with Chuck ever since he showed up in her algebra class. However, he’s not interested in her at all. CORRECT

And that’s all there is to it! Those four simple rules will help you use although with confidence – an important skill for any serious writer.

Jean Reynolds, Ph.D., is a longtime English professor and Shaw scholar who has published eleven books. Her most recent book is What Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell You: Everything You Need to Know about Showcasing Yourself through Your Writing (Maple Leaf Press).

Available through Amazon.com and other online booksellers

Available through Amazon.com and other online booksellers

 

25 thoughts on “Crafting Better Sentences: Use “Although” Carefully

  1. Neyra

    Cultures around the world are different however, there are many similarities as well.

    Is this sentence written correctly? Some of my peers say “yes”, some say “no”.

  2. ballroomdancer Post author

    The sentence is incorrect. You can’t join two sentences with a comma unless you use a FANBOYS word (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). Here are two ways to correct it:
    Cultures around the world are different. However, there are many similarities as well.
    Cultures around the world are different; however, there are many similarities as well.

  3. lena

    Can i start an essay with although? Example: Although you said to explore other colleges, university of Michigan in Dearborn has a lot to offer.

  4. ballroomdancer Post author

    You certainly can. The only words that don’t work well at the beginning of a sentence are “like” and “which” (unless you’re asking a question).
    “Like” is fine in a sentence like this: “Like many Floridians, I think about preparing for bad weather during every hurricane season.” The problem is that many people write fragments starting with “like”: “Like many women who attended college in the 1960s.”
    Another point: I would have said “the University of Michigan,” adding “the” and capitalizing “University,” since it’s part of the name of the institution.

  5. Pitale

    Is this sentence correct?
    ‘Although the boys trained very hard, they could not win because the opposing team was very strong.’

  6. Meeka

    Is the below sentence correct? I never used ‘although’ with an adjective and now I saw it in a book.
    ‘Although inexperienced, individuals with the willingness to learn will make a difference in the foreseeable future.’

  7. ballroomdancer Post author

    Technically speaking it’s correct – but it’s awkward. Incidentally, I notice you’re using inverted commas, ‘like this,’ instead of double quotation marks, “like this.” Are you British? The inverted commas are unusual.

  8. Prakash

    Although he accepted to tutor grand children of Rama, but, took no favors for his personal ends.instead desired the welfare of his people.

  9. ballroomdancer Post author

    This sentence needs some corrections. Here are the two most important ones: Don’t use “although” and “but” in the same sentence. And never put a comma after “but.”
    Here’s a suggested revision: Although he agreed to tutor Rama’s grandchildren, he took no favors. He desired the welfare of his people.

  10. Shafiq

    Although he agreed to tutor Rama’s grandchildren, he took no favors, as he desired the welfare of his people.
    is it correct?

  11. ballroomdancer Post author

    Yes, it is! But “as he desired the welfare of his people” sounds formal to my American ears. It would sound more natural to say “because he desired the welfare of his people.” Better yet: because he was committed to helping his people.

  12. sok sovannaroth

    according to Cambridge dictionary, i found comma is used before the word although. ” She walked home by herself, although she knew that it was dangerous.” could you explain about this case?

  13. ballroomdancer Post author

    You have sharp eyes! The comma is correct. If you read the sentence aloud, you’ll hear your voice change when you start reading “although she knew that it was dangerous.” Your voice will drop a little and then go up at the end. I call this Comma Rule 3. (Grammarians call it an “interrupter.”) You lower your voice when a sentence has extra information. To learn more, go to this link: https://wp.me/PU98s-1v. You can also search for “Comma Rule 3” in the search box on the home page.

  14. Avni

    Although the lesser cornstalk borer is widely distributed, control of them is necessary only in the South.
    Is it correct?

  15. ballroomdancer Post author

    Technically there’s an agreement error. “The lesser cornstalk borer” is one critter, so “control of it” would be better than “control of them.”
    I came up with this revision: “Although the lesser cornstalk borer is very common, control is necessary only in the South.”

  16. Vishal Sharma

    Hey there!
    “Although she was in Florida yet she didn’t meet him.”
    Does this sentence need any error correction?

  17. ballroomdancer Post author

    You need two changes. Delete “yet.” And you need a comma (Comma Rule 1). “Although she was in Florida” is an extra idea. Your real sentence is “she didn’t meet him.” Here’s the corrected sentence: “Although she was in Florida, she didn’t meet him.”

  18. jas

    Re your rule 1 (Never put a comma after although.): I offer, “I decided to accept the job offer although, despite the owner’s assurances, I had some doubts about the company’s stability.

  19. ballroomdancer Post author

    You’re right, and I thought about interrupters when I constructed this post! When I created this blog, I decided – based on years of teaching – not to discuss exceptions when I introduced a rule. Some readers feel intimidated and confused when they think they have to deal with exceptions. Anyone who knows how to construct an elegant sentnce like yours probably wouldn’t even read the post about “although.” Thanks so much for the feedback – I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog!

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