1. john murphy
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    john murphy Member

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    Addicted to "But" and "However"

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by john murphy, Oct 28, 2012.

    First, should I always follow these two words with a comma? My instincts tell me so, but I'd like confirmation.

    Second, I seem to be addicted to using them. In some passages I use them two or three times. I feel like anything used more than once, e.g., "merely", is too much and will annoy the reader. I do my best to catch repititions when reviewing.

    However, I find "But" and "However" necessary. I can't seem to rephrase things to eliminate them. Occassionally I can use "Yet." (should that also be followed by a comma?)

    Suggestions?
     
  2. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    First I would suggest heading to Google and doing some research on this. There are plenty of explanations on "but, however, although, etc."

    If you really can't restructure your work to avoid repeating them, consider reducing the number of comparative statements. Likewise you could change the type of comparison slightly. The best advice I have would be to look up plenty of synonyms and play around with word order. I find that "In contrast" can be used in some places depending on the the writing, as do "still", "although", "even so", "yet", "contrarily", and a few others depending on the context and timing of the placement.

    "however" is simply a more academic word for "but" and a bit more versatile because it can be placed before or after its clause. The trick is to keep your sentences varied so that the presence of "however" isn't so cumbersome. That is to say, you should play around with sentence order, word order, and even word choice. Toss the idea around in you head a few times and see if moving the comparison around doesn't help. You have to come up with your strategy, and the best way to do that is to write, THEN re-write. Repetition can be a bad thing; even so there are some inevitabilities-- you won't find many suitable replacements for "and".

    That said, If they are the beginning of your sentences, then yes you should have a comma there, even if it is not to imply a pause. This is because they imply a change of ideas; they denote contrast. "But" is the exception to this because you should never begin a sentence with "but" unless its dialogue, or you write a questioning statement as if you are writing conscious thought.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cure thyself!

    a surfeit of such words can ruin otherwise ok writing... either use an alternative, or restructure the sentences to not need them...
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, if you're always telling the reader "however...", the reader will soon stop taking you seriously because they will know that every last statement you ever make is always followed by just why it's not true, why the character disagrees, why there's an exception, and etc. It also sounds like you may be using too much passive voice?

    I just searched through my entire manuscript of 69,000 words - I used "however" only 4 times.

    So hey, while I may not be a spectacular writer, it sure shows it's possible :D

    PS. just did a rough search through the same MS - I used "but" I think between 200-300 times - my maths is abysmal and I've actually forgotten how to find a percentage... but either way I think that's not so often considering the word count total is 69k.
     
  5. marktx
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    marktx Contributing Member

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    Ha! I myself seem to be addicted to "bits." -- "He waited a bit longer." -- "It was a bit of a challenge."

    My first drafts seem to have more bits than the Kentucky Derby. Readers might feel so bitten by my first drafts that they might be tempted to reach for a can of Deep Woods Off.

    Fortunately, since I'm aware that I have this tendency more than a little bit, I also know that it's one of those verbal quirks I have to iron out in subsequent revisions. Using the "Search" function in my word processor helps me zero in on the bits that need fewer "bits," and I then work on the afflicted passages to make them less bitter.
     

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