Contrast words are commonly used in academic writings, especially argumentative essays. It seems that they are pretty similar in meaning, like but, although and, however. Actually, they are different in use. We are going to go through the correct use of those words.


1. But

But can be a conjunction, adverb or preposition. It can be used to join two words of opposite meaning or sentences of the same grammatical type.


Using a comma before but

  • She listens, but she never joins in.

She listens is a complete clause ( it contains a subject and a verb) She never joins in is a complete clauses. This means you need a comma.


Using but without a comma

  • The room is adequate but small.

In this example, small is not a clause. But is being used to show a contrast.


2. However

“However” is an adverb who can connect sentences with opposite meanings. It can be placed at the beginning or in the middle of a sentence.


We thought the figures were correct. However, we have now discovered some errors.


3. Although

‘Although’ can be used to show two contrasting points, which can be placed at the beginning or in a sentence or in between two clauses.


Although the team lost, they played with tremendous spirit.


There is no cure for the disease, although drugs can slow down its rate of development.


4. Nevertheless

Nevertheless/nonetheless is a contrast conjunction, which can be placed at the beginning of a sentence. It is stronger and more formal compared to “however”.


He was tired.  Nevertheless, he carried on with his journey.


5. In contrast

This phrase can only be used if there is a very big difference between two things.


In contrast, the lives of girls in well-to-do families were often very sheltered.