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Friday, September 4, 2009

Though vs Although

Occasionally we hear that we should never, never, ever start a sentence with "though." "Although" is the only correct word to use.

Ridiculous! There is nothing grammatically wrong with using "though" at the beginning of a sentence. Both "though" and "although" are both subordinating conjunctions (with their cousins like "if," "when," "after," "unless," "until" and a couple of other ones. ("And" and "but" are "coordinating conjunctions," not "SUBordinating conjunctions which connect clauses of equal importance. SUBordinating conjunctions relegate a clause to a position of less importance in a sentence.)

Or is it ridiculous?

Obviously the words are often interchangeable. And sometimes we may want to use them to begin a sentence. But grammar guru June Casagrande, author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies says that if you follow this rule-that-isn't-really-a-rule you can keep yourself from making other editing and grammar booboos.

What we writers need to be careful of is not SUBordinating clauses that really are the most important part of the sentence and should be the main part of the sentence. June gives this example:

"Though he had killed everone in the house with a rusty ladle and served their organ meat to the dogs, he wasn't tired." She says, "All the interesting stuff is crammed in the SUBordinating clause (that stuff that comes before the comma).

So this kind of misuse is what we need to watch. Maybe we should avoid using both "though" and "although" to begin a sentence.

Just to be on the safe side.

Just because it's so darn hard to spot our own writing idiocyncrasies.

It's better not to set ourselves up for looking ridiculous. At least to an editor who should be able to spot that error right off the bat.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0978515870. Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com, where writers will find lists and other helps on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog.

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