However Punctuation Rules 101

Most of us have been using “however” in our writing for years. Unfortunately, many of us have been punctuating this word all wrong. There are just a few simple rules to remember to have you writing like a pro. In this article, we’ll explain the punctuation and grammar rules for using “however”.

Learn To Punctuate With However

spiderman meme demonstrating how to punctuate however properly

Follow these basic grammar tips to master using this adverb. Just be sure that you understand the difference between punctuation vs grammar as they are not the same thing! Punctuate the word “however” in the following 4 ways.

  1. Start A Sentence
  2. Join Independent Clauses
  3. Add Emphasis
  4. Used As A Conjunction

1) Start A Sentence

The most basic and traditional rule for using “however” is when it is used as a sentence starter. A proper sentence should be structured in the following formula:

However + Independent Clause = Complete Sentence

Example: “Mark is one of my favorite baseball players in the MLB. However, I must admit he is not having a great year.”

If you use “however” with a dependent clause to start a sentence, be sure to place the comma after the dependent clause. But you would place the comma before the phrase “as well as” in grammar. It is also frequently used to start a new paragraph. Also, be sure to know how long can a paragraph be to not make this common mistake!

Example: “However you think about it, we still need to figure out a way to get home tonight.”

2) Join Independent Clauses

“However” is one of the most common conjunctive adverbs. In other words, “however” is used to connect two sentences into one compound sentence. The word however is actually very similar to the words nevertheless vs nonetheless. Follow this formula:

Independent Clause + “;” + “however” + “,” + Independent Clause = Compound Sentence

Example: I ran up the bill at Chili’s last night; however, I am going to go back to Chili’s tonight.

Other common conjunctive adverbs include:

  • Therefore, I am not a huge fan of the Mets.
  • Moreover, there are many ways to write a proper essay.
  • Furthermore, use conjunctive adverbs to connect a new independent clause in your future essays.
  • Similarly, I enjoy ice cream just as much as I enjoy cookies.
  • Hence, I have decided to retire from the PGA Tour.

3) Add Emphasis

When “however” is used to add emphasis or intensify a sentence commas are added before & after.


  • We, however, will not be joining you for dinner tonight.
  • You, however, are not invited to my birthday party next year.

4) Used As A Conjunction

Finally, “however” can be used as a conjunction with the meaning ‘by whatever means.’ We saw this on our but after comma post detailing how to use the comma in this situation.

Example: It doesn’t matter however you do it, just as long as the job gets completed.

Comma & Semicolon Usage

Punctuation is one of the most important parts of a sentence. Knowing where to place a comma with the word “however” can completely change the meaning of a sentence. The same goes for semicolons.

Punctuation also affects other common words like reuse or re-use. A small punctuation and spelling change can make a huge difference!

We have covered some of the most basic grammar rules for how to punctuate “however”. Check out these examples to master your punctuation skills.

5 sentences using “however”:

  1. I am not a huge fan of football; however, I will be attending the Super Bowl next year.
  2. However, that does not mean I am coming over for dinner.
  3. We, however, will not be able to financially recover from this.
  4. However you draw it up, golf is the best game in the world!
  5. My dog hates the mall; however, he will take any chance he gets to ride in the car.

When Should A Semicolon Not Be Used?

A semicolon should not be used in any of the following 4 ways.

  1. Between two unrelated sentences (Example: The sun is shining; she loves ice cream.)
  1. Before coordinating conjunctions (Example: The meeting is scheduled for 3 PM; but we can reschedule if needed.)
  1. Before certain transition words (Example: She wanted to go out; however, she had to finish her work.)
  1. When connecting an independent and a dependent clause (Example: John finished his project on time; because he worked diligently.)


Q: What is the correct punctuation when using however?

“However” is most commonly used at the beginning of a sentence followed by a comma. For example “I met up with my friends to play basketball in the park yesterday. However, things did not turn out how I expected.” In this example, “however” You can also place a semicolon before and a comma after “however” to connect an independent clause to the previous sentence. When words join two independent clauses they are called conjunctive adverbs.

Q: Is there a comma or semicolon after however?

A comma should be placed after “however” if it is connecting two complete sentences or introducing a new idea. The semicolon should be placed before “however”. A comma should never be placed before the word “however”.

Q: How do you punctuate However in the middle of a sentence?

Put a semicolon before and a comma after the word “however” if it is joining two independent clauses (compound sentence). For example, “I love to run; however, I am not in very good shape.”

Q: Does however need two commas?

“However” does not always need two commas. Sometimes, “however” is used to introduce a new idea or to contrast two ideas. In these cases, “however” doesn’t need two commas. An old traditional rule stated that however shouldn’t be used to start a sentence, but that rule is old fashioned for modern writers.

Q: Is there always a comma before however?

No, there is not always a comma before however. While it is generally considered a best practice to use a comma before however when it is used as a conjunctive adverb to introduce a contrast, there are several instances where leaving out the comma can be used in a complete sentence. Conjunctive adverbs are adverbs acting as conjunctions.

The Bottom Line

If you want to be a punctuation powerhouse, follow these rules for using “however” properly. Whether you’re using it as a conjunction or adverb, make sure to use a semicolon when it’s followed by an independent clause; otherwise, use a comma.

Punctuation rules are highly important no matter if you’re trying to hyphenate “in person” or “however” in your writing!

Silly spelling and punctuation mistakes can distract your readers and lower the quality of your writing. Use your new found punctuation skills to take your writing to the next level!