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As I know, the word "though" doesn't need a comma before it (at the end of a sentence) if it's an adverb. How do I know if "though" is acting as an adverb? A few examples would be good! I've looked online and haven't found a single thing that tells me how to decide if "though" is an adverb.

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    It's easy to spot the difference between adverbial and prepositional "though". It is an adverb in the sense of "however" and it is often preceded by a comma (It wasn’t very successful, though; He has got some good qualities, though); elsewhere it’s a preposition, usually taking a clausal complement and alternating with "although" (He couldn’t help us, though he certainly tried; Though it seems incredible, Ed actually passed his exams!). – BillJ Oct 22 '16 at 7:05
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The OED provides quite a mouthful on though as an adverb. We can imagine the lecturer tapping his pointer on the chalkboard as he intones that though is:

An adversative particle expressing that relation of two opposed facts or circumstances (actual or hypothetical) in which the one is inadequate to prevent the other, and therefore both concur, contrary to what might be expected.

Most important is that when though is used as an adverb, it modifies a verb. Whenever though is used to modify a verb and to talk about the opposite of what came before, or something different than what was expected, it's an adverb. In English, this often comes at the end of a sentence.

The OED also provides a list of meanings (or of words and phrases that can sometimes be substituted for though with the same sense):

  • For all that
  • in spite of that
  • nevertheless
  • howbeit
  • however
  • yet

If a sentence is composed like this, though is an adverb:

I expected him to lose the election, though!

(Note that in the above, the sense is the same with or without a comma. The comma can be omitted to avoid interfering with the rhythm of the sentence, but it is not critical to the sense of the adverb.)

Try the substitutions yourself:

  • I expected him to lose the election, for all that!
  • I expected him to lose the election, nevertheless!

Though here tells us that the speaker either thought her candidate would lose when he won, or that he did lose but that the speaker's reaction is somehow apposite to what is or was expected of her. There are other possibilities as well, but the speaker's expecting is modified by the adverb though. Opposition, or a confounding of expectation, is what though expresses as an adverb.

If a sentence is composed like this, though is a connective preposition:

  • Though he tried, he lost.
  • He did his best to win, though he lost.

Here, though connects its clause to the main clause, and adds information to it, with the same sense of "notwithstanding" as in the adverbial use, but without acting to modify the action or effect of a verb, as an adverb does.

  • Please correct me on this: if "though" is used as an adverb – Tim Oct 22 '16 at 5:29
  • Please correct me on this: if "though" is used as an adverb, adding a comma before it won't make a difference, correct? But as a rule, if it is an adverb, don't add a comma before it, correct? Also, I clicked "enter" by accident. – Tim Oct 22 '16 at 5:30
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    I can't think of an instance when omitting the comma would change the meaning of though. As a "rule", though, I do use the comma. It doesn't matter though. – P. E. Dant Oct 22 '16 at 5:39
  • Let me just ask one more question. It is stated that when "though" is used as an adverb, you don't use a comma before it, so why did you in your example, "I expected him to lose the election, though"? – Tim Oct 22 '16 at 6:34
  • It is not required to use a comma before "though" as an adverb at the end of a sentence. Some do, and some don't. There is no rule governing the use of the comma. We use it, or do not, depending only upon our preference and the specific context. – P. E. Dant Oct 22 '16 at 6:49
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Though is an adverb when it's used when you are saying something that contrasts from your previous statement

For example:

It was hard work, but I enjoyed it though

We didn't win, but our strategy was great though

  • But doesn't "though" in the example, "We didn't win, but our strategy was great, though," also be contrasting? – Tim Oct 22 '16 at 4:39
  • @Tim Yes..it's contrasting.. didnt win is a negative statement..and another statement was positive – user178049 Oct 22 '16 at 4:44
  • You can check out what does it mean by though in Merriam-Webster – user178049 Oct 22 '16 at 4:45
  • If it's contrasting, why was a comma used before "though"? You said that "though" is an adverb when it contrasts with what was said before, and if "though" is acting as an adverb, why did you use a comma before it? – Tim Oct 22 '16 at 4:50
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    @Tim Okay, I shall omit the comma. But there is no rule that says you can't use comma after "though" – user178049 Oct 22 '16 at 5:00

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