“However” is a very useful word. A conjunctive, it lets a writer or speaker connect two ideas to reveal a contrast. It’s simple, to the point, and an easy vocabulary word to understand – which is why it tends to be overused.
I’m terribly guilty of using “however”; in fact, the reason I’m writing about the word is because I just cleaned up a piece of writing before submission that included, in one stretch, a “however” in every other sentence. This had me reflecting on other ways to get that same “however” point across – without using “however.”
Phrases and words you can use instead of however include:
- even so
- even though
- in spite of
- not withstanding
- that said
Some of these are not great choices. “anyhow” and “anyways” are too informal; “not withstanding,” “nevertheless” and “nonetheless” seem too formal and bordering on aged. “But” is a great choice if it weren’t so overused in addition to “however.”
My personal choices would be to use “though” (“Though she said she loved me, she didn’t cry when I walked away”) and “in spite of” (“He bit my hand in spite of my regular feedings”). I also enjoy using “despite” sparingly, as well as “While” if the sentence can be reworded (“While she professed her love, her eyes remained dry as I walked away”). Just so long as you avoid “however” as your only word choice for the situation, and your writing will still come away clear.
Fun pointer: “However” isn’t technically wrong at the beginning of a sentence, despite Strunk & White’s advice. Style may make “however” a better sentence opener than having a place mid-sentence.