In this blog post, you’ll learn how to use a range of conjunctive adverbs similar in meaning, but which have important grammatical differences. Conjunctive adverbs are essential in academic writing, and you should be able to use a range of them accurately.

Conjunctive adverbs are words like therefore and however which show the relationship between two ideas in two sentences. They are different from simpler conjunctions like and or but, which connect two different ideas in one sentence. For example:

Many capital cities offer more competitive salaries, but the cost of living is also higher.
Many capital cities offer more competitive salaries. However, the cost of living is also higher.

Note that the conjunctive adverb however is isolated from the rest of the sentence by a comma. This happens whether the conjunctive adverb is at the start or in the middle of the sentence, e.g.

Many capital cities offer more competitive salaries; the cost of living, however, is also higher.

As you can see from this example, you can also separate the sentences with a semi-colon instead of a full stop (although this is less commonly seen, and perhaps more literary in style than academic).

Now, let’s look at how you can use complex advanced conjunctive adverbs accurately. We’re going to examine the following:



in spite of this

despite this

These are very close synonyms, and are used to introduce a surprising or unexpected continuation of a series of events, especially showing persistence in the face of adversity e.g.

Trump faced widespread criticism for his first travel ban, which was rejected. Nonetheless, he drafted a second ban, which he hopes will be enforced.
J.K. Rowling’s first draft of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by many different publishers. Nevertheless, her agent sent it to a final publishing house, who agreed to publish the novel.

As shown above, nevertheless and nonetheless are followed by a complete clause, i.e. subject + main verb (+object).

However, in spite of and despite (not despite of) need to be directly followed by a noun without a verb. Often the noun is simply this, but you can also put in a noun phrase. Here, the comma comes after the noun or noun phrase.

Following the scandal, the shareholders called for the resident’s resignation. In spite of this, he has promised to remain in the company.
 Following the scandal, the shareholders called for the president’s resignation. Despite the growing criticism of his leadership, he has promised to remain in the company.

When was the last time you used any of these phrases in your writing? Give it a go! You can post your sample sentences in the comments below.

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