Monday, June 4, 2007

Using “Though” at the End of a Sentence

I’ve had more than one advanced ESL student (and a beginner or two) ask about the use of the word “though” during our tutoring sessions. Usually, it’s based on something I’ve just said during our class. They sort of get if from the context of what’s being said, but it’s very difficult for me to explain how to use this adverb.

My favorite Longman’s Dictionarydefines “though” as “used at the end of a sentence to add a fact or opinion that makes what you have just said seem less important, or to add a very different fact or opinion.” Well, yeah, that’s true. But I haven’t been able to figure out how to effectively teach ESL students how to add this use to their conversation skills. The best I’m able to do is to point out when they could use “though” when they are speaking with me.

Here are some examples:

He’s a rotten husband. He’s good to his children, though.

She drives too fact. She’s never gotten a speeding ticket, though.

The examples may seem a little strange in writing. “Though” at the end of a sentence is really something that belongs more in spoken English.


Debra said...

It occurred to me that "though" is actually a shortened version of "although", and merely has moved from the beginning of the clause to the end of the second sentence. Then the sentence would read, "He’s a rotten husband, although he's good to his children."

That also would fit with the th pronunciation of "though", compared to the usual th sound at the beginning of the word. If indeed short for although, it makes sense that the th is sounded like the th in the middle of the word not like the beginning th. (As I teach German speakers I'm quite alert to this th problem:)

Anonymous said...

I've always understood "though" as a subjunctive that shows contrast, like "but". Instead of using though, you could say "She drives to fast, but she's never gotten a speeding ticket". I think though can also be placed in other positions, like "She drives too fast though she's never gotten a speeding ticket". Or "Though she's never gotten a speeding ticket, she drives too fast".

Anonymous said...

Ooops. I said though is a subjunctive...I meant conjunction. Lol.