Grammar Tip – However

However is one of the most frequently-used words in business writing. It’s a wonderful word. It tells the reader that the sentence contradicts the previous thought.

Unfortunately, many writers do not know the correct punctuation that accompanies the word. Because however is a two-syllable connecting word, there must always be a comma after it. But what do you put in front of it?

If there is a subject and verb on either side of however, you must put a period or a semicolon in front.


Computers can break down. However, you can call the help desk.?Computers can break down; however, you can call the help desk.


Computers can break down, however, you can call the help desk. (There are two distinct thoughts, but the punctuation is wrong. The error is called a run-on sentence.)??Many people consistently place commas in front of however. But the only time you can legitimately do so is if there is only one thought.


Computers, however, can break down.

(The However used in this example has commas on both sides to indicate it is being used as an interrupting word. In other words, it is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.)

If you can master this rule, you will be the grammar guru of your office!

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