Word Usage 101: How to Use Albeit Properly

The English language has hundreds and thousands of words. Many of them were useful, but others are obsolete.

When you look up any English word on Google, you can easily find a definition, synonyms, topics regarding that word and a few example sentences. You can even use the internet to figure out the difference between two similar terms, such as good night and goodnight.

What makes the search engine unique, though, is its ability to find out the popularity of a particular word over the last few centuries. Today, we’re going to look at albeit, a common word about 400 years ago, but has gone out of style for quite some time.

Over the last few decades, however, the word has begun to make a comeback.

What Does Albeit Mean?

albert einstein quote
The word “albeit” found in a quote from Albert Einstein. Source: Pinterest

Let’s first look at the definition of albeit. The word simply means “although.” Albeit is a conjunction used to establish limitations on an action or express contradiction.

Although is the best synonym for albeit. You could also use other synonyms in place of albeit, including even if, even though, notwithstanding and but. Pro-tip: if you’re going to use one of these synonyms in place of albeit, make sure that the sentence makes sense or doesn’t sound awkward.

The Origin of Albeit

This term began life in the early 1300s. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word albeit is an expression consisting of the words all, be and it. The long version of albeit is “although it be (that).”

How to Use Albeit

As a conjunction, albeit can introduce a concessive clause. You can identify a clause as a concessive clause when it starts with albeit, although or even though. By putting albeit in that clause, you’ll be expressing something that contradicts the information presented in the main clause.

Here’s an example of albeit in a sentence: Arnold was a wonderful addition to the tech team, albeit a late one.

You could also use albeit to introduce subordinate clauses. This, however, is the territory where even though and although seem more natural to use. To add “albeit” in this scenario can sound awkward.

Here’s another grammar tip to remember: you can use the word “although” to introduce independent clauses. You can’t, however, do this with albeit. This serves as proof that the two words are not always interchangeable.

Take a look at these two sentences to see the improper and proper use of the word albeit:

Incorrect sentence: Nick and Tara decided to purchase a Tesla, albeit the price made them hesitate.

Correct sentence: Nick and Tara decided to purchase a Tesla, although the price made them hesitate.

Can I Begin a Sentence with Albeit?

You have the option to start a sentence with that term. You could do this for two reasons: to shift the focus to the main clause and weaken the contradictory phrase.

Take note, though, that this is a less common way to use the word “albeit.” Here are a few examples:

  • Albeit at a leisurely pace, the child headed home for supper.
  • Albeit gently, the mother scolded her daughter.
  • Albeit slowly, the grandmother rose from her armchair to water the plants.

Putting albeit at the beginning of the sentence is possible, so long as you properly switch the dependent and independent clauses, as well as change the comma placement. When you begin a sentence with this conjunction, the comma follows the dependent clause.

What Follows Albeit

Albeit is usually succeeded by parenthetical elements, adverbs, adjectives and noun phrases. Let’s look at examples for each category:

Albeit and Parentheticals

Parenthetical elements are expressions placed in the middle of a statement as an interruptive thought. Their only purpose is to add more life to a sentence. The word albeit comes before parentheticals.

Here’s an example statement:

“He has forgiven her, albeit reluctantly, for screwing up multiple times.”

Albeit and Adverbs

Pairing albeit with adverbs is a common way to properly use the conjunction. Take this sentence as an example:

“Jessica’s proposed solution for employee turnover came about from nowhere, albeit rather unexpectedly.”

Albeit and Adjectives

You can interlace “albeit” with an adjective. Here’s an example:

“This slicing tool still appears sharp, albeit heavy.”

Albeit and Noun Phrases

You can also tie albeit to a noun phrase at the end of a sentence. Below is an example sentence:

“Leilani Wolfgramm’s ‘I Am’ has an upbeat tune, albeit with a tragic backstory.”

Do You Have to Put a Comma Before Albeit?

Proper comma usage is important to prevent the likelihood of misinterpretation, which could inevitably result in misinformation. If you’re not starting a sentence with this contrastive conjunction, the answer is yes, you will need to place a comma before albeit.

Many consider albeit as an archaic and obsolete word, yet you could still hear it in everyday English conversations. Knowing the meaning and the usage of this conjunction can help improve your English speaking and writing skills. We hope you find this guide to albeit useful.

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