Last week we learned that adverbs can generally be
placed anywhere in a sentence, but the placement of
adverbs can change the meaning of the sentence. It’s
important to choose an adverb’s place within a
sentence deliberately to avoid confusion and to
ensure your meaning comes through. Four of these
adverbs are also, only, not,
and however. Last week we discussed also
and only. Today, we will discuss the last two: not and however.
The Adverb Not
Not is a difficult adverb. Its
placement is connected to the meaning of the
Reading all of Dante’s Inferno did not
This example says that the act of reading the entire text
of the Inferno did not
change my mood. As not is placed before
the word depress, the emphasis is placed on
Not all of Dante’s Inferno depressed
me when I read it.
This example shows that there were some parts of the
text that changed my mood, but not all of it. The
not is placed before the word all, so the
emphasis is placed on all.
The adverb not is commonly used
incorrectly in not-but
sentences. Not-but sentences are supposed to
show the positive, not the negative.
The ocean does not soothe me, but the next
The ocean does not soothe me, but excites me.
first example is incorrect because the position of
not puts the negative emphasis on me
by placing the positive elsewhere (the next guy).
The second example fixes this mistake by saying it
does not do one degree of positivity (soothe),
but a higher level instead (excites).
The Adverb However
Like the other four adverbs, however relies
on its placement to show different meanings.
However can be used anywhere in a sentence
(beginning, middle, or end). And if it is placed in
the middle, it acts as an interrupter.
The article, however, was out of date.
This example shows however in the middle of a
sentence. In this case, however acts as an
interrupter. That means that however is
not needed in the actual sentence for the sentence
to make sense, and the word is just interrupting
the sentence to add emphasis (such as the previous example, where the
emphasis is placed on article). Interrupters
are used to add emphasis at a specific point in the
sentence, to bring attention to the sentence by
slowing the reader down, and to point out the
The research article was very old. The article did
act as a seminal source, however. Therefore,
it was okay to use. (Correct)
effect of this placement delays the contradiction to
the end. A writer might use
however at the end of a sentence to show the contradiction, but not
slow down the purpose of the sentence by getting
straight to the point.
last use of however is at the beginning of an
introductory phrase or clause. In these instances, however
acts as an adverb that shows that something will
occur no matter what.
However you read it, the article is still
However can also be used (with a semicolon
before it) to join two sentences together.
The article on business ethics was boring;
however, it did give me the information I needed
for the paper. (Correct)
These two sentences can also be separated by a
period instead of a semicolon, but they can be
connected with the semicolon because they are
related to each other in a logical way. The
semicolon is the actual connector. In this
particular instance, the sentence states that
although the article was boring, it was still
Overall, while the uses of also, only,
not, and however might have stricter
rules to follow for placement, they can really add
to the full meaning of the sentence depending on
where you decide to place them. Accurate and deliberate placement
means that your intended meaning will come
Nick Jobe earned a degree in English with secondary
teaching certification in spring 2009. He has tutored in the Academic Center
since January 2007. He is a writer, novelist, and Fall '07
winner of the Golden Ampersand award.
Kehrwald. Line by Line: How to Improve Your Own Writing.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1985.