Post by Eric Walker
I frequently start sentences with "However, ...". Why do you find this
It represents the thought - "I'm about to bring up something that does
not follow from what I wrote in the first sentence" - clearly enough. It
alerts the reader to the change in thought.
At the head of a sentence, it weakens the sentence. It is, one might
say, a fulcrum point between two thoughts. "Most of the members thought
the idea sound. Jane, however, found it awful." If one recasts that as
"However, Jane found it awful," the fulcrum now seems to join two
distinct sentences rather than two parts of the same sentence. Or,
putting it another way, one has constructed a see-saw where the the
fulcrum is at one end, which is a trifle awkward.
So these are slightly awkward see-saws with the fulcrum at one end? Or
is "but" somehow not a fulcrum?
"Most of the members thought the idea sound. But Jane found it awful."
"Most of the members thought the idea sound, but Jane found it awful."
In other words, I don't follow your analogy there one little bit. The
"However" is the fulcrum or something between two thoughts. The
thoughts are "Most of the members thought the idea sound." and "Jane
found it awful." At the beginning of the second sentence, the fulcrum
comes precisely between the two thoughts. In the middle of the second,
it comes between the subject and the predicate of the second thought. I
realize you did that to emphasize the contrast between Jane and the
other members, but the analogy doesn't work.
Post by Eric Walker
That is not catastrophic; it is just language that is a little less
effective. It's one of those fine points, like replacing "this" with
"that" wherever the sense permits, that makes language just that little
bit tighter and more effective.
I do wonder, however, at those who say that using "But" to open when one
wants a true counterpoint to the preceding sentence is somehow "weak".
One-syllable words stating and ending with consonants are typically
Not unaccented ones. "However" is "heavier" than "but", and sometimes I
feel the need for that heaviness. At other times, especially in the
middle of a sentence, I find it too heavy. Your "Jane" sentence is one
such--the simple "Jane found it awful" can't support the weight of a
"however" in the middle. Also in long sentences, especially with lots
of commas, a "however" in the middle can drag the whole thing down to
Davy Jones's locker. In my opinion.
I often like "However" (or "But") at the beginning because it tells the
reader right away to expect a contrast, especially when the alternative
is to have it near the end. That strikes me as one of those fine points
that make language more effective.
Finally, there's not always a good place to insert a "however". The
original passage was
"The White House said the president's heart rate during his February
exam was 70 beats per minute and his blood pressure was 118.80 mmHg,
which are both healthy levels.
"However, his dosage of a cholesterol-lowering drug was reportedly
increased after the check-up and Mr Trump's weight had risen slightly to
243 pounds, pushing him over the line into obesity."
I could criticize things in that extract, and the decimal point in
"118.80" is simply wrong, but the "however" can't go anywhere else. It
could be replaced with "but", but I prefer "However".