Word Choice: Although vs Even Though
  • 3-minute read
  • 17th June 2023

Word Choice: Although vs Even Though

English is full of words or expressions that sound the same or similar but have different meanings. And then there are words and expressions that, on the face of it, seem to mean the same thing but have more subtle differences that can trip you up, regardless of how long you’ve been using the language. The difference between although and even though is a case in point.

Using although over even though (or vice versa) can subtly alter the meaning of what you say or write. To avoid accidentally causing offense, you should understand the distinction. Let’s take a closer look.

What Does Although Mean?

To emphasize the difficulty although and even though present, one definition of although that the Merriam-Webster dictionary gives is “even though,” which essentially means “in spite of the fact that.”

Where the dictionary definition of a word is of little or no help, we can look at a few examples of the way we use the word to illustrate how it may be understood.

Generally speaking, we use although, a subordinating conjunction, when contrasting two ideas or situations to show that one is surprising or to indicate a preference or concession:

James is forty although you wouldn’t know it to watch him play.

Erin was delighted with the signed photo of Paul McCartney although she would have preferred one of George Harrison.

Although I like my Ford Fiesta, I have always wanted a Mini.

What Does Even Though Mean?

We often use even as an intensifier, so you may not be surprised that Merriam-Webster’s definition of even though is “a stronger way to say though or although.” In common with although, even though acts as a subordinating conjunction.

As you might expect from the definition, we use even though to contrast two ideas or situations, but this time with a stronger emphasis on the difference between the two.

And this is where you need to be careful. The extra emphasis on the difference can change an expression of preference into a complaint:

Erin was given a signed photo of Paul McCartney, even though she preferred George Harrison.

Even though I have wanted a Mini since I was five, I have never driven one.

Having extra emphasis on the difference can, however, also have the opposite effect. Imagine someone said this to you:

You tidied your room although I didn’t ask you to do that.

Without as much emphasis on the difference between the ideas in the above clauses, you might be left feeling deflated. Some appreciation for the effort has been expressed, but you might be wondering whether you shouldn’t have bothered. You might even think you were in trouble.

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However, you may feel differently if someone said this instead:

You tidied your room, even though I didn’t ask you to do that.

With greater emphasis on the difference between the ideas, it’s much easier to understand this statement as praise.

Summary: Although or Even Though?

●  Both the word although and the idiom even though mean essentially the same thing – “in spite of the fact that.”

●  You can use either one to contrast two ideas or situations.

●  We generally use although to express a preference or concession – perhaps think of getting an A for effort.

●  We generally use even though to place emphasis on the difference between ideas or situations – perhaps think of the V in even standing for versus, emphasizing opposing teams.

Even though the word and the phrase have pretty much the same dictionary definition, they can subtly change the interpretation of a sentence (see what we did there?). Armed with a better understanding of this distinction, you can make sure that your meaning is clear.

You can find further advice on vocabulary in the writing tips word choice section of our blog. And if you would still like some help with your terminology, we have a team of experts available 24/7. You can upload a free sample of your work to try out this service.

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