We often write the word ‘however’, but the many ways to use it cause punctuation grief. Here are some guidelines:
1. Use ‘however’ to begin a sentence
✅ Maddie ran a highly professional campaign. However, she lost the election.
Note we need a comma after ‘However’.
2. Use however to join two simple sentences
✅ Maddie ran a highly professional campaign; however, she lost the election.
Note the semi-colon before ‘however’ and the comma after.
3. Use ‘however’ as an interruption
✅ It is, however, difficult to win against an incumbent in a safe seat.
When interrupting your sentence, enclose ‘however’ snugly between commas.
4a. Use ‘however’ to mean ‘in whatever way’, ‘by whatever means’ or ‘to whatever extent’
✅ However extensively Maddie doorknocked, she couldn’t get over the line.
Note the comma after the first clause. You’ll hear where the comma goes if you read the sentence aloud.
4b. You can flip this last example around to put however in the middle.
✅ Maddie couldn’t get over the line however extensively she doorknocked.
Just don’t muddle that usage up with our first example, or you will punctuate it incorrectly:
❌ Maddie ran a highly professional campaign however she lost the election.
Like to test your knowledge? Take our short However Quiz.