If you believe in ‘although’, clap your hands!

I’d like to start a campaign to bring back a word that seems to be fading away like Tinkerbell: ‘although’. (You can read my similar views on ‘can‘ and ‘some‘).

I’m not sure why, but writers increasingly use ‘while’ instead of ‘although’. In the texts I have edited recently, ‘although’ has been vanishingly rare, choked out by the proliferating ‘while’.

Yet it is such a useful word.

‘Although’ is a concise word with a precise meaning of even though or in spite of the fact that.
‘While’ can certainly mean although. But it can also mean during or at the same time as.

This can lead to confusion if either meaning might be appropriate in the sentence. For example, if the text says:

‘While Rome was burning, Nero fiddled’

did the writer mean that Nero fiddled during the time that Rome was burning, or that Nero fiddled despite the fact that Rome was burning?

It is important to strive for precision in our language, and the use of ‘although’ allows us to convey exactly what we mean.

‘Do you believe in ‘although’? Say quick that you believe. If you believe, clap your hands!’ (with apologies to JM Barrie). And please, use it wherever appropriate in your own work, before it fades away completely.

Are there other words you would like to save?

The Australian manual of scientific style (AMOSS) discusses a range of terms to look out for, along with grammar myths, and provides a wealth of guidance on scientific communication in a range of disciplines. AMOSS is available online, and we welcome user feedback so that we can continue to expand this resource with regular updates. If you have a particular rule, word or terms you would like to highlight, please let us know.