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

 

12 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.

Leave a Reply