To say that “English is confusing” is an understatement as there are so many expressions out there that could support this idea.
For instance, “though” is not only two letters short of “although.” These words also substantially differ in meaning, function, and usage in real life.
Today’s post aims to lessen, if not get rid of, the confusion between “though” and “although” to make English less of a trouble and more of a snuggle.
Shall we begin with a quick answer?
What is the difference between “though” and “although”?
While the “though” can act either as a conjunction or an adverb, “although” can only act as a conjunction in a sentence. The word “though” means “despite the fact that” as a conjunction and “nevertheless” as an adverb. Meanwhile, the meaning of “although” is closest to “even though.”
We probably know that both “though” and “although” are conjunctions and that they fall under the subordinating type.
Subordinating conjunctions are those that connect independent clauses to dependent clauses. They don’t usually come with a comma when used midsentence.
Sentences linked by subordinating conjunctions are what we call complex sentences. These sentences are generally more difficult to form than simple and compound sentences.
Apart from the subordinating type, we also have conjunctions that connect two independent clauses. We call them coordinating conjunctions in grammar.
Coordinating conjunctions are used to build compound sentences. These conjunctions are widely called “FANBOYS” for easier recall.
Meanwhile, those conjunctions that work in pairs are known as correlative conjunctions such as “either…or” and “not only…but also.” These conjunctions are utterly inseparable.
Correlative conjunctions are used to create blended sentence structures. In other words, they are used to fuse ideas and make them shorter in length.
Learning these different types of conjunctions can make today’s topic easier to understand because of how our discussion would flow as we go along.
If you need to re-learn the basics, though, please feel free to check our definitive guide on conjunctions to get the hang of the difference between “though” and “although.”
Even though “though” and “although” are both conjunctions, “though” can additionally act as an adverb in a sentence.
Adverbs are content words that can be used to modify verbs, adjectives, as well as other adverbs. They are mainly used to highlight the ideas that we want to convey.
In terms of word order, most adverbs go before the verb in a sentence, but there are also certain parameters to this general rule.
The case is different in the adverb sense of “though” because it is most likely used to “soften” or “weaken” what we want to say.
Softening expressions are also otherwise known as hedging devices. Their job is to make language use more “cautious.”
Whereas, “although” does not bear this function at all – at least as an individual word per se; it can serve this function when used on a clausal level instead.
To understand more about sentence structures and their levels, it is best to review the difference between clauses and phrases and how they work together to form a larger unit of meaning.
Now that we already have some basic idea of how “though” differs from “although,” let us also tackle the nuances behind each word to make things clearer.
How to use “though”
As an adverb, “though” is something one would use to “tone down” a statement or even a question, hence a hedging device.
Clearly, we mainly use this particular sense of “though” within slightly compromising or negative situations to make them “less undesirable.”
To soften sentences with the word “though,” we normally use it at the end of a question or statement, such as in the examples below:
Hey, your sister said she can’t make it on Saturday. Are you coming, though?
I’ve read the book so I expected more from the movie, though.
That’s okay. You could do better next time, though.
If things are still unclear with the adverb and conjunction senses of “though,” you may also alternatively think of how the word “yet” can also perform these two roles.
As a conjunction, “though” is heavily used as a more casual substitute for “although”, especially in spoken contexts.
As mentioned, the adverb “though” is likely used to soften speech. Because of this, we can also expect that people make use of this function when using “though” as a conjunction.
To use “though” as a conjunction, it is usually placed at the beginning of the sentence, which is the inverted structure for complex sentences.
Though you got left behind with the lessons, you still nailed the exams.
Using “though” in a sentence is probably the easy part because of its pretty straightforward meaning.
However, punctuating “though” with a comma is a different story because of certain grammatical conventions.
When “though” is used as an adverb, a comma preferably comes either before or after it and even on both sides when it appears midsentence.
How to use “although”
Understanding how to use “although” in a sentence correctly needs a fairly different approach as it is most likely used in formal contexts.
Placing a comma before or after “although” entails certain rules that are mainly based on syntax or “the study of structures” and even semantics or “the study of meaning.”
In general, no comma is needed before “although” when it is used as a subordinating conjunction midsentence.
However, the rule changes when it is used to mean “but,” a coordinating type of conjunction. When this happens, a comma is needed before “although” even midsentence.
The same is also true with other conjunctions like “so” and “while.” They can meanwhile act as coordinating conjunctions like “but” and need pre-commas despite being used midsentence.
In terms of meaning, “although” is closest to “even though,” which is another conjunction that also falls under the subordinating category.
We can use “although” at the beginning of the sentence in an inverted sentence pattern, such as in the next example given. When this happens, a comma before the main clause should be used.
This is the typical structure used with “although,” especially in writing, as it creates a “delaying” effect when explaining something that is unexpected.
If we wish to use “although” as a subordinating conjunction in a regular sentence structure, no comma should come before it.
Take note that it is incorrect to use “although” the same way we use “however” at the beginning of the sentence with a succeeding comma.
“However” is quite special because it s actually a conjunctive adverb like “hence,” “thereby,” and “besides.” This is the reason why it can be used with a post-comma.
Other ways to use “though” and “although”
“Though” is also used to mean “but,” just like “although.” This is the case because “though” is simply a more casual alternative for “although.”
When this happens, a comma is used before “though” even if it is used to connect a clause in the middle of a sentence.
“Though” can also be paired with the word “as,” forming the phrase “as though.” This phrase is an alternative for “as if.”
“As though” is commonly used to talk about hypothetical or imaginary situations, just like in the example below:
Meanwhile, “although” can also be used to mean “but.” When this happens, it also needs a comma afterward when positioned midsentence.
When not to use “though” and “although”
If there are cases in which “though” and “although” can be alternatively used, there are also times when we have to avoid doing so.
Remember that “though” and “although” are only interchangeable when they are used as conjunctions, no matter whether in the middle or at the beginning of a sentence.
However, it is not possible to use “although” instead of “though” when the latter is acting as an adverb in the sentence.
(correct) I haven’t gone out of the country this year at all. Last year, though, I went on a trip to Jamaica.
Also, we should not use “although” as an alternative to “however”, especially at the beginning of a sentence as a transition device.
If we wish to write something like the example sentence below, we should stick with “however” and not “although.”
(correct) I think you are suggesting something that is easier said than done. However, I also understand the necessity.
Frequently Asked Questions on “‘Though’ vs ‘Although’”
How can we use “although” in a sentence correctly?
“Although” can be used either as subordinating conjunction that means “even though” or coordinating conjunction that means “but.” When it is used as a subordinating conjunction, a comma should not be used before it. However, when it is used the other way mentioned, a comma should come before it.
Can you use “though” and “although” at the beginning of a sentence?
It is possible to use “though” and “although” at the beginning of a sentence as conjunctions but not as conjunctive adverbs. Both can be used to introduce the dependent clause before the independent clause in an inverted complex sentence structure.
What is the difference between “although” and “even though”?
“Although” conveys a subtler connotation than “even though.” Hence, “even though” is a better choice when making stronger arguments rather than just talking about ordinary contrasts.
While the major differences between “though” and “although” can be taught and learned at school, their nuances can only be mastered with practice and exposure.
So, never hesitate to read more English texts and even listen to how the natives naturally make use of such words in real life.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.