"because" vs. "although"

These two words are often use; therefore, we take them for granted. Since they’re common and easy to use, it shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong! It is easy words like these that give us headaches, and cost students precious marks in their essays.

  • because: used for giving reasons
  • although: used for expressions that are different from what is expected, or opposite


  1. They are so excited (why?) because they are going bowling tonight.
  2. Because they are going bowling tonight, they are so excited.
  3. He is smiling although he is sad.
  4. Although Yasmin is sad, she is smiling (an opposite reaction – if she is sad, she should be crying, not smiling.)

Things to remember:

  • Never begin a sentence with “because” unless it’s used as an adverb clause as in Sentence #2. Similarly, do not begin a sentence with “although” unless it’s an adverb clause as in Sentence #4.
  • Although” and “but” can never appear in the same sentence. The reason is, both words are used for expressing opposite or unexpected results.

An adverb clause is a group of words that answers the questions where, when and why.

That means, the following sentences are wrong:

  1. Because you are late. (X)
  2. Although many people have died of passive smoking. (X)
  3. Although the H1N1 virus is deadly, but we are still not bothered about it. (X)
  • Sentence #1 is wrong because it’s not a complete sentence. A complete sentence must begin with a subject and followed by a verb.
  • Sentence #2 is wrong for the same reason.
  • Sentence #3 is wrong because “although” and “but” are mutual enemies. They cannot exist in the same sentence. Use only one of them.

Posted on November 25, 2009, in Word Power and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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