Nevertheless vs nonetheless and other transitional words for the English language learner

Words such as nevertheless and nonetheless are transitional words which are essential to the art of writing in English. Transitional words are needed to clarify meaning, demonstrate a certain level of competence and sophistication with the language, and to guide the reader from one quadrant to the next. Two transitional words that often confuse English language learners are “nonetheless” and “nevertheless.” First, what do nevertheless and nonetheless mean and what is the difference between them?

Nevertheless means in spite of the fact that X may have caused (or contributed to) Y, X will not be a controlling variable in terms of Y. In other words, nevertheless means “it’s all the same” -notwithstanding. So for example, one might say: “It rains all the time in Paris; the sky is always grey. Nevertheless, Paris is one of the most awesome cities in the world.” So the translation is that in spite of the weather being less than perfect, it does not change the fact that Paris is still awesome. Notice how the speaker “transitions” from saying something negative to saying something positive about Paris. So the greyness does not control the speaker’s sentiment for Paris.

But the transition can go the other direction. The speaker could have said: “I love Paris it is one of the most awesome cities in the world; nevertheless, the sky is always grey and this depresses me sometimes.”

Now, for nonetheless. What does nonetheless mean? Nonetheless, quite simply, means nevertheless. The two words are synonymous! Although, it is probably true that nevertheless is used more often than nonetheless.

Some other transitional words that mean nevertheless are:

In spite of that;

even so;





that said;

yet; and



As far as written English communication goes, using these transitional words will show a certain level of English language sophistication. However, over-use or misuse of these words will reveal a writer who is less knowledgeable and sophisticated than he or she wants to portray. Thus, use these words with caution.


For a more indepth article on transitional words go here

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