How do I use ‘however’? Do I need a comma?
Great question. ‘However’ is one of those things that people commonly trip over. The short answer is yes, you do need a comma…sometimes.
‘However’ can be used in three ways:
- To start a sentence that contradicts the previous one
- In the middle of a sentence, contradicting the previous sentence
- In the middle of a sentence as a new clause that contradicts the previous clause. This always needs a semicolon.
Examples of each use (note the different punctuation):
- Jen always wore red. However, that day she surprised me by wearing blue.
- Jen always wore red. That day, however, she surprised me by wearing blue.
- Jen always wore red; however, that day she surprised me by wearing blue.
Some purists don’t like starting sentences with ‘however’. However (see what I did there?), it’s becoming more common and is now generally accepted.