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Comma before or after “nonetheless”: The Definitive Guide

Comma before or after “nonetheless”: The Definitive Guide

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Deciding where to place commas often takes its toll on anyone trying to write a sensible text.

Comma-decisions oftentimes are a cause of writing mishaps such as meaning ambiguity or unnecessary complexity.

Although accidental comma mistakes sound amusing and entertaining in many cases, it is still recommended to correctly position this punctuation to prevent misinformation.

This blog tackles comma usage before and after the adverb “nonetheless” — a word which translates to “in spite of variable x”, and the fraternal twin of “nevertheless”.


Is a comma needed before or after “nonetheless”?

On one hand, a comma is needed before nonetheless when it is used as a parenthetical element which is mainly done for stylistic reasons.

On the other, when it serves as an introductory conjunctive adverb in a sentence, we place a comma after it.

However, when it is used to modify adjacent words such as verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs, a comma is inessential either before or after it.


Comma before “nonetheless”


Using nonetheless as a parenthetical element

An alternative way to enhance writing style is by using parenthetical statements.

When we speak, it is common to insert personal comments in the middle of speech; therefore, converting these interjectory expressions into writing would constitute the use of parentheticals.

The word nonetheless may be used this way and a statutory comma is inserted before it.

Although Letters from Christopher has been generally reviewed as “dark” and “disturbing” to read, nonetheless evil, still ensued international cash grab.
The pouring rain, nonetheless a mood setter, has depressed the writer instead.

Parenthetical elements are mainly used to convey the emphasis of words for rhetoric reasons, and thus making their usage noncompulsory and purely stylistic in nature.

Ergo, comma usage is essential in encapsulating these interruptive thoughts clearly from the rest of the sentence.


Comma after “nonetheless”


Using nonetheless as a conjunctive adverb

Nonetheless is a rather special type of connector grammatically referred to as conjunctive adverbs.

These adverbs are otherwise known as adverbial connectors.

Conjunctive adverbs are basically adverbs with a conjunctive or connective function.

They connect ideas of comparison, contrast, or any form of relationship between and among arguments.

Arguments are logically and sequentially denoted by this type of adverbs.

Generally, there are two different ways in which conjunctive adverbs are used in writing; either between two independent clauses separated by a semicolon, or as an introductory entity to another complete sentence.

When two independent clauses are too closely important to each other that the relationship may be hardly expressed by chopping them into two separate sentences, we set them off by a semicolon followed by a comma.

Heinous crimes occur around the world every day; nonetheless, justice systems still remain morally askew in many countries.

He sees the torrential rains hammering the waters from afar; nonetheless, he is determined to sail away to save his brother.

Sometimes, the contrasting idea introduced by a conjunctive adverb may refer back to a previous whole paragraph or a lengthy and complex sentence. 

Cases similar to these would require a comma placement after the conjunctive adverb at the beginning of the sentence.

The recent atrocity in the oil rig has claimed many innocent lives while leaving massive irreversible environmental damage and orphaned children. Nonetheless, the national government has remained unsympathetic and uncooperative due to some under the table agreements.


When is a comma not necessary with nonetheless?

Adverbs may generally be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.

When nonetheless is used to modify an adjacent word, it does not need any commas before or after it.


Nonetheless modifying a verb

An adverb may modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs in a sentence.

An easy way to know its function is to remember that adverbs are “adjectives for verbs”.

When verbs are modified by nonetheless, we do not enclose it with commas.

He nonetheless stayed calm and composed despite the heavy traffic.
Although offended by the misogynistic comment, she nonetheless maintained her poise during the interview.


Nonetheless modifying an adjective

Adjectives modified by nonetheless do not need commas either.

Although already infuriated by the heavy traffic, he was nonetheless calm and composed.
Even after receiving her resignation letter, Bob was nonetheless adamant about Evie’s decision.


Nonetheless modifying an adverb

Lastly, modifying another adverb with nonetheless is neither set off by commas.

Despite being too busy with her job, she still walks her dog nonetheless regularly.
Lucy faced her fears with oozing confidence and elegance nonetheless.


Nonetheless: A morphological background

The adverb nonetheless is formed by the morphological process called compounding.

Compounding is the process of combining free morphemes to create a new word that may denote related, partially-related, or even an entirely different lexical meaning.

Nonetheless is the result of compounding the word “none” which means an inexistent entity, followed by the definite determiner “the”, and “less” which generally means a small amount of something.

The new compounded word nonetheless conveys the combined meaning of the three lexical items mentioned above, which is now referred to as a conjunctive adverb of contrast.

Contrastive adverbial connectors are used to entail unexpected results of another implied idea either in the same sentence or from a previous one.

These cohesive instruments are vital in the expression of higher-order thinking as well as linguistic fluency.



Advanced linguistic control may be stipulated by the appropriate use of punctuations and adverbial connectors in writing.

Understanding the usage of these devices significantly increase comprehension, thereby stimulating our brain cells and improving our speech or text intelligibility in effect.

Amplified oral and written literacy, which are both productive language skills, serve as verification of our language acquisition process; therefore, they are crucial in preventing miscommunication and misinformation.