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though / as though / like

Tamas from Hungary writes:

I'm a bit confused about using the word though. It's often used at the end of a sentence. For example:

  • The house isn't very nice. I like the garden though.

Can you help me out and explain the usage of this word?


Roger Woodham replies:

'though' as conjunction

We normally think of though as a conjunction introducing a contrastive statement, and as the less formal and less forceful equivalent of although and even though. Compare the following:

  • Even though it was suffocatingly hot, she was wearing a thick woollen sweater.
  • Although she was very fond of him, she had no intention of marrying him.
  • We could try to phone her before we go, though we might miss the train if we do.

'though' as adverb

But in your example, Tamas, though is used as an adverb as the less formal equivalent of however. We use though and however when we want to add a comment that seems to contradict or contrasts with what has already been said. As in your own example, Tamas, though often indicates an afterthought. Compare the following:

  • I performed so well at interview I thought I would get the job. However, it was not to be.
  • The economic outlook is not very good. However, I can assure you that nobody will lose his job.
  • I’m sorry, I can’t stay for lunch. I’ll have a coffee, though.
  • What a lovely sunny day! ~ There’s a chilly wind, though, isn’t there?

as though / as if / like

Like though, as though and as if are subordinating conjunctions. We use as if or as though when we want to give an explanation for something which may not be correct:

  • She looked at me as if / as though I were mad.
  • Take an umbrella. It looks as if / as though it’s going to rain.
  • I can’t understand why she’s so keen on him. It’s not as if / as though he’s good-looking or anything.

In spoken informal English, particularly American English, we sometimes substitute like for as if and as though:

  • She looked at me like I was stupid.
  • It looks like it’s gonna rain.

Strictly speaking, like, meaning similar to, is a preposition which can only be followed by a pronoun, noun or noun phrase. So, if you want to be grammatically correct, make sure you use like in this way:

  • Like all good curries, it was served with fresh coriander and nan bread.
  • Like me, she refuses to work after six o’ clock in the evening.
  • On the phone you sound just like your mother. In fact, I always think it is your mother.
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