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The school is strict about hair styles; (   ), some students break the rules.

The correct answer is supposed to be nevertheless. But can't notwithstanding also be correct in this sentence? Can someone explain why not? Thank you.

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    Only if you change the structure. They are different categories of words. You can say "The school's strict rules notwithstanding, some students (...)" – Mr Lister Feb 22 '18 at 8:33
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The default function of notwithstanding is a preposition. It is similar to "despite". It is used alongside those factors that do not preclude something. For example,

Notwithstanding the school's strict rules, some students still come to school with weird hair styles.

So, "notwithstanding" is a preposition that is "pre-positioned" before the word "rules". Often, "notwithstanding" can be used in post-position:

(The school's strict rules notwithstanding, some students still come to school with weird hair styles.)

—but the correct term for it as part of speech is still "preposition.")

Only in its second function as adverb is it equated with "nevertheless", and in this adverbial meaning, it usually comes after the statement that it qualifies.

However, nevertheless is and can only be an adverb, so it can be inserted into a sentence on its own.

In your case, something standalone needs to be inserted. The first choice is "nevertheless."

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In your first example, "nevertheless" has the meaning of "however"

The school is strict about hair styles; nevertheless, some students break the rules.
The school is strict about hair styles; however, some students break the rules.

In your second example, "notwithstanding" has more the meaning of "eventhough"

Notwithstanding the school's strict rules about hair styles; some students (still) break the rules.
Even though the school has strict rukes about hair styles; some students break the rules.

  • "Eventhough" is not a word. – tenebris2020 Feb 22 '18 at 13:22

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