There has been a slightly unusual question asked as of late about the use of ‘although’ (or, in some cases, just ‘though’). The basis of the confusion seems to be on what kind of word it is, as far as part of speech goes. Many people don’t seem to realize that it is a conjunction, and so is specifically used to link words in the same was as ‘but’, ‘or’, ‘and’ or ‘however’.
When they learn this, it tends to bring up another issue, one that we have spoken about several times on this blog: can you use it to start a sentence?
As we all know by now, the use of conjunctions as anything but a later link in a sentence is very controversial. In most English classes it is deemed completely unacceptable, and will lead to points being taken off of the final grade of your paper. Even other classes where essays are written might be a stickler for this point, which can be frustrating for the student.
So, we will reiterate the point about conjunctions themselves.
Past Versus Present English Rules
Prior to the 1800′s, it was perfectly acceptable to use a word like ‘although’ at the beginning of a sentence. In fact, no one would even blink an eye at you if you did. It was as ordinary as any other kind of word, as long as the context was proper. It was also generally understood that too many sentences beginning with such words was in bad form, but that was a guideline more than a rule.
When the era moved into the Victorian period, the way people wrote began to change. Form was shifted and the descriptive nature of most texts was very different. For example, the way the story of Gulliver’s Travels was told by Jonathan Swift was significantly unique to the way that Wuthering Heights was told by Emily Bronte.
Basic rules about what was accepted in structure was also very different. Conjunctions at the beginning of a sentence were seen as incomplete, and given the language common at the time, this is understandable. But it became less relevant as English began to shift again. By the 1920′s, the change was so marked that the rule was no longer as applicable as it was before.
Now, language has become much less formal and slang is accepted more freely as proper vocabulary. Sentences no longer look incomplete when you use a conjunction.
‘Although’ As A Conjunction
Apart from it being a conjunction, ‘although’ doesn’t look like it’s brethren. It is also harder to start a sentence using it than using a word like ‘however’. Because out of all of the conjunctions, it does have a way of making a sentence seem incomplete. Because of this you have to make sure you are applying it to a sentence that explains itself, such as below:
“Although it is not technically considered improper in the modern age, using this word to begin a sentence can be a bit tricky.”