The “Although” Problem

If I had to make a list of troublesome words, although would be high on the list. Yes, it’s a useful word, and – surprise! – it’s easy to use. But there’s a particular error that’s so common that I’ve even caught professional writers doing it.

Can you spot what’s wrong with this example? (If you do, give yourself a gold star!)

Chan told me she usually locked the back door before she went to bed. Although, that night she forgot. INCORRECT

There are two problems with that sentence. First, NEVER put a comma after although. Never. Don’t do it!

Second, anything that begins with although is an extra idea and must be attached to a sentence. (For a complete explanation, click here and read about Comma Rule 1.)

Here are three ways to fix today’s sentence. Take your pick – they’re all correct.

Chan told me she usually locked the back door before she went to bed although that night she forgot. CORRECT

Although she forgot to do it that night, Chan told me she usually locked the back door before she went to bed. CORRECT

Chan told me she usually locked the back door before she went to bed. However, that night she forgot. CORRECT

(That third correction is an interesting one, isn’t it? Often when writers mistakenly put a comma after although, the word they’re really looking for is however. It’s a fix that works much of the time.)

sticky notes asking if it's right or wrong

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