You may have come across both adverbs nevertheless and nonetheless before. However, have you ever wondered about the difference between the two? In this article, we thought we’d share the difference with you, as well as how to use them.
What Is The Difference Between “Nevertheless” And “Nonetheless”?
“Nevertheless” should be used when you want to say “in spite of” something in a sentence. It’s introduced when we’ve made a point but want to start a new point in spite of the old one. “Nonetheless” should be used for the same reason, as the words are synonymous.
If you look at The Cambridge Dictionary definition of “nevertheless,” you’ll see that it means “despite what has just been said or referred to.” However, it also says that “nevertheless” and “nonetheless” are the same words, which proves our point.
Why Do We Use “Nevertheless” And “Nonetheless”?
We use both of these words when we want to make a point despite whatever we just said. Usually, the point that we make is contradictory or ignores the previous point, and we want to make it clear that we’re writing the point despite anything else.
Both words are adverbs used in formal writing to express a new point. Sometimes, that point might contradict what has just been written, so “nevertheless” and “nonetheless” are used to recognize this contradictory point.
Interestingly enough, both words are common to use in essay writing. However, “nonetheless” didn’t even exist until the early 1900s.
What Is The Origin Of “Nevertheless” And “Nonetheless”?
We can go all the way back to 1756 to find the first use of “nevertheless” in English. It was included in Samuel Johnson’s “Dictionary of the English Language” and meant “notwithstanding that.”
If you look at this graph, we can see how much older “nevertheless” is compared to “nonetheless.” “Nevertheless” is dated back to before the 1800s (most likely due to Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary), while “nonetheless didn’t exist until the 1920s.
Using that information from the graph, we can also see that both words are fairly even in use now. While “nevertheless” is still slightly more popular, they’re interchangeable, and both are used frequently in writing.
“Nonetheless” also wasn’t officially recognized as a word in any dictionaries published until 1963. In that year, “Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary” included the meaning of “nonetheless” as “nevertheless.”
Even when “nonetheless” finally got its own meaning, it still referenced the original word that many more people were familiar with. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why “nonetheless” is still not quite as popular as “nevertheless.”
Is It “Nonetheless” Or “None The Less”?
While we’ve talked about “nonetheless” being the younger of the two words, we think you’ll find these statistics very surprising.
From this graph, you’ll see that in the time where “none the less” was more common (1840 – 1940), there was still a case where “nonetheless” was used. However, it wasn’t used in the traditional sense and was instead split into three separate words.
“Nonetheless” is the correct way to write the word. However, in the mid-1800s to mid-1900s, “none the less” was the only officially used word of the two.
You can see on the graph an exact moment where the two words seemed to overlap each other and inevitably swap in popularity. Around the 1940s, people started to use “nonetheless” more because it was recognized as a word. This meant that more people were choosing to use it over the three words “none the less.”
It was much easier to write when combined together as one word, and many people preferred the simplicity of it.
Is It “Nevertheless” Or “Never The Less”?
While “none the less” once existed in a time before “nonetheless,” the same cannot be said for “never the less.”
If you look at this graph, you’ll see what we mean. “Nevertheless” was always recognized as a word during its time in use, meaning it never needed an alternative. There hasn’t been a single place in history where “never the less” was written as three separate words.
“Nevertheless” is correct, while “never the less” is not correct (and has never been used in history).
We can’t use the two forms interchangeably like we might have done in the past with “nonetheless.” That’s because people are more comfortable with the ease of writing the three words as one singular word, and nothing will change their mind on that.
Should You Place “Nevertheless” And “Nonetheless” In The Beginning, Middle, Or Ending Of A Sentence?
When we use the two words, no matter which form we use, it’s important to know where they go in the sentence. Let’s go through some quick examples.
- Nevertheless, I wanted to be there.
- I, nevertheless, knew I’d need help.
- She shouldn’t be here, nevertheless.
These are the three different ways we’re talking about using “nevertheless.” However, only two of them are correct. While the grammar rules are all followed in all three examples, the last example doesn’t quite work.
“Nevertheless” and “nonetheless” are clause-initial adverbs, meaning they should come somewhere at the start or in the middle of a sentence for them to add the meaning you desire. They cannot be written at the end of a sentence.
However, “nevertheless” and “nonetheless” work quite well as an interruption. We use interruption words (or interrupters) directly after a pronoun to break up the flow of a sentence slightly while conveying the meaning that we want to get across.
- I, nevertheless, knew what I needed to do.
Again, it’s not the most common option (which would be to put the words at the start of the sentence), but it’s still possible to write it in this way.
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Should You Place A Comma Before Or After “Nevertheless” And “Nonetheless”?
When you’re writing either of the two words, the next thing you should think about is placing a comma (or not, if that works too).
You should always place a comma after “nevertheless” and “nonetheless” because it starts the clause and works as an adverb to introduce it. You should also use a comma before “nevertheless” when used as an interrupt.
We use commas to break up the sentence flow, and in this case, we use them to separate “nevertheless” from the rest of the clause we’re writing about. Let’s look at these examples.
- Nevertheless, he didn’t mean to say that.
- He, nevertheless, wanted to continue.
In both of these cases, we’ve had to include commas. In the first one, we include a comma directly after the word. In the second example, we include two commas on either side. Now let’s look at the sentences without the additional clauses.
- He didn’t mean to say that.
- He wanted to continue.
See how both sentences still make sense even when we remove “nevertheless” from the structure. This shows you how the commas act in the sentence. If you can remove the clause, it means that commas are necessary because we’re only breaking up the clause to help with flow.
7 Examples Of How To Use “Nonetheless” In A Sentence
Let’s go through some examples of the two words.
- Nonetheless, it was over.
- Nonetheless, he knew where to find them.
- I, nonetheless, had to go there.
- Nonetheless, you needed to be there to understand.
- Nonetheless, it all comes down to what happens next.
- The team, nonetheless, tried their hardest.
- Nonetheless, teachers aren’t paid enough.
7 Examples Of How To Use “Nevertheless” In A Sentence
“Nevertheless” is synonymous with “nonetheless,” so we could use the same examples as before, but we’ll try and keep it fresh.
- Nevertheless, there’s more to that story than you know.
- She, nevertheless, wasn’t interested.
- Nevertheless, he wanted more.
- I, nevertheless, had to find out.
- My mother, nevertheless, knew what I did last night.
- Nevertheless, we can’t go back there.
- Nevertheless, things are harder than they seem.
Is “Nevertheless” And “Nonetheless” Conjunction Words?
Neither of the two words are conjunction words and shouldn’t be used as such.
Both words are adverbs and clause-initial adverbs. That means we start sentences with them, rather than using them as conjunction words to group two sentences.
Is “Nonetheless” And “Nevertheless” Formal?
Both words are considered formal in most writing. You can use them really well to evaluate a point or show something contradicting something else previously mentioned.
What Is The Difference Between “Nevertheless” And “However”?
“Nevertheless” is used at the start of a sentence or as an interrupt to show that something is done “in spite of” something else. “However” is a conjunction used to combine two sentences or used as an interrupt, meaning that something is a “contrasting statement.”
Is “Nevertheless” And “Regardless” The Same?
Both “nevertheless” and “regardless” have the same meanings. They’re both used to talk about something “despite” something else, which means they’re synonymous with each other.
Nevertheless Vs. Nonetheless – Synonyms
Finally, let’s go through some alternatives that you can use if you’d rather.
A much more formal (and old-fashioned) synonym.
Regardless means the same thing as nevertheless and works well here.
- Even so
Slightly less formal, but works well in most cases of writing.
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