34 Although as a Transitional Device

Although As a Transitional Device

Alys Avalos-Rivera and Yelin Zhao

Based on the analysis of the uses of however in the previous section, we have learned that this transitional word is used to contrast features of one or two themes. In this section, we proceed to discuss another transitional device (i.e. although) that also serves the contrastive function. In fact, some students even view however and although as synonyms and think they can be used interchangeably. This false assumption leads to some inappropriate uses of these two transitional expressions in their writing. Task 1 intends to guide you to explore the differences between the uses of however and although.

Activity 1

In the following exercise you will find three passages that contain however and three passages that include although to present contrasts. Read the passages carefully and discuss the following questions with your peers:

1) As you did in Activity 2 in the however chapter, in each of the following passages, first circle the theme(s) and then underline the features that are set in contrast.
2) Within each passage, which sentence (Sentence [1] or [2]) introduces the contrast between features?
3) Where in the passage is the transitional word placed? Sentence [1] or [2]?
4) Using your responses, fill in the chart that appears below.

  1. [1] There is a general belief that compared to undergraduate students, graduate students are less likely to violate academic integrity since they are more mature and more educated. [2] Although the belief is prevalent, Brown (1995) reported that, in fact, graduate students are as likely to cheat as their undergraduate counterparts.
  2. [1] Badge and Scott (2009) pointed out that little research has been done to examine the impact of plagiarism detection tools on staff teaching practices. [2] Although a number of recent studies have considered educational use of Turnitin, they focused on individual programs or subject areas rather than institutions as a whole and the relationship with policy.
  3. [1] Activities which involved another party, such as copying and collaboration amongst students, created considerable diversity of opinion. [2] Although copying from other students was included in most definitions of plagiarism, for some participants from humanities and science, this was considered to be a different kind of cheating.
  4. [1]Plagiarism by students is an increasing issue at higher education institutions that require attention. [2] However, the development of academic misconduct policies has done little to reduce the incidence of plagiarism.
  5. [1] We intentionally offered students two articles in electronic form, available on the university Web site, and two printed in a journal, expecting that the electronic versions would be plagiarized more. [2] However, no differences in the plagiarism rate between the students who chose the electronic version of the source article or the paper version were actually found.
  6. [1] When electronic software tools for the detection of plagiarism first became available, many educators believed that they would provide an easily implemented solution, which would cut down on the hours of tedious manual detection. [2] However, within a short period of time, it became clear that electronic detection software “is not a magic bullet” (Caroll, 2003a) and that it is just one tool among many.
Example No. Q 1: Themes and Features in Contrast Q 2: sentence number in which contrasting features are discussed: Q3: Transition word is in sentence:

Rules to use although
As we have learned in the previous chapter, however is often used as a coordinating conjunction to connect two independent clauses that are of equal importance. In contrast, as shown in examples 1-3, although is used to connect ideas that are within one sentence, so it functions as a subordinating conjunction.

Activity 2

Read the following examples very carefully. Pay attention to the grammar structure and punctuation used in each sentence and complete the following activities:

1. Enclose the first clause of each passage using square brackets: [ ]
2. Underline the second clause: _______________
3. In examples 2 through 5, which of the two clauses carries the central idea of the passage? Why is that so? (Example 1 has been done for you).
4. Which clause is more important in examples 6 through 10?
5. What differences can you find between examples 1-5 and 6-10?

1. [Although professors and classroom teachers are extremely busy with all of their duties], adding components of job searching to teacher preparation will help candidates start their careers.

The second clause (underlined) carries the central meaning of the passage. The writer wants to emphasize why it is important to add a job searching component to teacher education programs.

2. Although many reading specialists would probably argue that reading is the most important skill students need to develop, the need to integrate technology into the school curriculum should not be overlooked.

3. Although I still would like to find a way to increase my brain capacity, my interest has shifted toward student learning and brain development over the past several decades.

4. Although research is less clear about the appropriate test level for academically gifted students, Warne (2014) conducted a study in which gifted students were tested above level with a test that was 2 years more advanced than their grade level.

5. Although the literature is mixed concerning whether online discussion boards are conducive to fostering students’ critical thinking skills, strong evidence suggests it is a learning environment ripe with possibilities for doing so.

6. Learning is fundamental to life itself and we probably internalize from every life situation and experience, although we are not conscious of much of it.

7. No local dengue fever cases were reported in 2013, although cases may have been underreported because of local physicians were not familiar with the disease.

8. Historically, counselors have not been involved in the academic mission of the school (Adelman, 2002; House & Hayes, 2002), although recent research suggests an urgent need for them to be (Adelman, 2002; Clark & Amatea, 2004).

9. Most test-takers managed to complete both choice exercises, although some only answered the first one.

10. All the plants remained alive at the end of seawater treatments, although their vitality was strongly reduced.
As you surely noticed, the sentences in this exercise follow two main patterns:

Although + clause / , / clause
Clause / , / although + clause

In all the examples, the although+clause shows the contrast, while the other clause carries the central idea of the sentence.

Rules to use although

1. The clause that starts with although is a dependent clause, so it carries less important information than the other clause that is an independent clause. Use sentence [2] in passage 1 (Activity 1) as an example: the dependent clause “Although the belief is prevalent” is less important than the independent clause “graduate students are as likely to cheat as their undergraduate counterparts.” In what follows, the writer is very likely to talk about detailed information regarding Brown’s (1995) study instead of how prevalent the previous belief is.

2. Regardless of the order used, you should always use a comma to separate the two clauses.

3. Unlike however, although is never followed by a comma.

4. It is also important to point out that since at least one sentence needs to be an independent clause, a sentence starts with “which,” as in the following example is ungrammatical: Although a number of recent studies have considered educational use of Turnitin, which focused on individual programs or subject areas rather than institutions as a whole and the relationship with policy.

5. Additionally, you might have heard, read, or even written a sentence in which the construction “Although xxx, but xxx.” This structure is inappropriate. The reason is that but is unnecessary, and contrast has already been indicated in the word “although.” This error might be due to direct translation from some languages other than English.


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Although as a Transitional Device by Alys Avalos-Rivera and Yelin Zhao is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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