There are many words in the English language that are downright tricky. Some words seem so similar, that most writers don’t even know the difference between the two. Nonetheless vs nevertheless are two of those words in which new writers get wrong. Nonetheless and nevertheless are often used interchangeably but can have different meanings. Read on to learn the real difference between these two words.
Main Difference Between Nonetheless vs Nevertheless
Upon first glance, nonetheless and nevertheless seem to be nearly identical words. This reminds me of the similarities between bear or bare with me. They follow very similar spelling rules & even have the same parts of speech. In fact, the Oxford Dictionary even suggests that nonetheless and nevertheless can be used interchangeably with the same meaning.
These words can both be used to describe a physical or metaphysical thing. However, modern grammar rules have come to differentiate these two terms. We have already covered compound verbs, but these words are compound adverbs. Both compound words, just like freshmen or freshman, are used to mean in contrast to or in spite of, but there is one small difference.
Nonetheless – The word nonetheless is a conjunctive adverb that is used when referring to an amount of something. For example, “I have a lot of money, nonetheless, I’m not happy.”
- Nonetheless is a compound word = “None + The + Less”
Nevertheless – The word nevertheless is also a conjunctive adverb that refers to performing an action despite the facts. For example, “The weather is terrible, nevertheless, I have to go for a run.”
- Nevertheless is a compound word = “Never + The + Less”
Takeaway: In casual conversation, you will likely be able to get away with using the word nonetheless & nevertheless interchangeably. Formally speaking, nevertheless is used to mean that you are doing something despite the facts.
When To Use Nonetheless
Nonetheless is made from three words: None + The + Less.
There are a few different ways to use the word “nonetheless.” It should be used as a conjunctive adverb, referring to an event that happens despite something else.
- For example, “He was late for his meeting, nonetheless he managed to make a great impression.”
Some people think it should only be used in formal writing, while others believe it’s perfectly fine in everyday conversation. In more casual conversations, I would recommend using the word however instead. The word however signifies the same meaning without using an awkward overly formal tone.
When To Use Nevertheless
Nevertheless is made from three words: Never + The + Less.
Nevertheless is a conjunctive adverb that is used to refer to something despite the facts. It can be used in both active voice & passive voice.
- For example, you might say “I never eat pizza, nevertheless, I’m going to try this new place.”
In this case, you are indicating that despite the fact that you don’t usually eat pizza, you’re willing to give it a try. The small difference between nonetheless vs nevertheless shows the importance of grammar rules in the English language!
Similarly, you might say “I was running late, nevertheless I managed to catch the bus.” Here, you are indicating that despite the fact that you were running late, you still managed to catch the bus.
Takeaway: The word nevertheless is used to refer to time-based events.
- I was late for my dentist appointment, nevertheless, I managed to get there on time.
- He was unemployed and homeless, nevertheless, he still managed to help others.
- The coffee was cold and bitter, nevertheless, I still drank it.
- I’m not the best at saving all my money, nonetheless, I try my best to avoid losing money.
- I get distracted by things, nonetheless, I try to focus when I’m at work.
- I sometimes write run-on sentences, nonetheless, I’m working on my grammar skills.
Conjunctive Adverbs 101
A conjunctive adverb is a transition word or phrase that is used to connect two independent clauses.
Conjunctive adverbs are also called linking adverbs, which are similar to linking verbs.
Some other common conjunctive adverbs aside from nonetheless and nevertheless include:
When used correctly, conjunctive adverbs can help to improve the flow of your writing and make it more cohesive. But I will caution you to not go overboard with these adverbs. Overusing conjunctive adverbs can make your writing sound choppy or overly formal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Nonetheless is considered to be more formal than nevertheless, but the two words are pretty interchangeable in most cases. Nevertheless is perhaps a bit more common in spoken English, while nonetheless sounds a bit more highbrow.
Nonetheless can be used in a sentence when referring to an amount or something that is measurable. For example, you might say “I only have a few cookies left, nonetheless they’ll be enough for me.”
You might say, “I don’t like Jake, nonetheless, I think you should go to the party.
Yes, nevertheless can be used as a synonym for “however”. Nevertheless is often used to introduce a clause that provides contrast to the preceding statement. It can also be used to express surprise or indignation. For example, you might say “I’m having a terrible day, nevertheless I’m here to help you” or “I didn’t realize you were such a jerk, nevertheless I’ll still help you out.”
The Bottom Line
By now, you probably know more than you ever wanted to about the difference between nonetheless vs nevertheless. Both words have the same meaning but are used in different situations. Use nonetheless to refer to a measurable amount of something. Use nevertheless to refer to something in spite of the facts & is often time-based. Use these grammar tips to improve your writing!