1. How cold it is, he leaves the window open all night.

  2. However cold it is, he leaves the window open all night.

Could you tell me which sentence is more polished or natural? Or is there any difference between them?

  • 1
    It seems to me that your 1st example is unacceptable. Your 2nd example is somewhat okay, though I'd probably prefer something more like: 2b. "However cold it is, he always leaves the window open all night."
    – F.E.
    Aug 31, 2014 at 7:15
  • Though, with some punctuation changes, your 1st example could work as an exclamative: "How cold it is! He leaves the window open all night."
    – F.E.
    Aug 31, 2014 at 7:34

2 Answers 2


Idiomatically, OP's first version is totally unacceptable, but I have to say I don't think the second version is the most "natural" usage either. Consider this from Google Books...

I get up early however late I go to bed (no written instances at all)
I get up early no matter how late I go to bed( (56 written instances)

To my mind, the "core" sense of however is by whatever means, where at least there's an obvious connection between how and means, method, way. But in OP's usage, it means to whatever extent - which although not uncommon in casual speech, strikes me as being at least slightly "odd".

EDIT: I'm guessing some people have downvoted this answer because they "know" that native Anglophones often use However much rather than No matter how much. That's quite true, but as this chart shows, usage has shifted significantly over the past half-century...

enter image description here

  • +1 The first sentence just isn't right, however, I don't see any problems in the second sentence. However much you dislike However at the start of a sentence, meaning to whatever extent might be because it is often found at the end of the sentence, but there's no reason not to put it at the start, however odd it seems. :)
    – Frank
    Aug 30, 2014 at 18:47
  • I don't think it makes any difference whether the [relative?] clause is moved to the front or not. However, I do think your comment implies I have a greater "dislike" of such usages than is actually the case. The reason I find no matter how more "natural" than however in such constrictions is primarily that it's far more common - as evidenced by those Google Books results, which I think show that my reaction reflects average usage. I only really added the "slightly odd" bit to suggest there might be some "logic" to my/average preference. Aug 30, 2014 at 19:49
  • No matter however cold it is. what about this version?
    – nima
    Sep 4, 2014 at 14:18
  • @nima_persian: I don't understand all the downvotes here. Both no matter how and however are perfectly acceptable (although the former is far more common in your exact context). To me at least, mixing both forms is "not acceptable". But obviously some people have different ideas about the two basic choices, so perhaps they also find the "hybrid" version okay too. I think maybe this question needs a bounty to get some more attention from competent speakers, since most of the votes just seem plain wrong (and there are few explanatory comments). Sep 4, 2014 at 14:30
  • 1
    @BerkerYüceer: You've inspired my to try and breathe fresh life into this answer with a supporting NGram usage chart! Whether that'll attract any more counterbalancing upvotes remains to be seen. Oct 25, 2019 at 15:23

The second one seems more natural to me. The first one, with a little change in syntax, would be fine. But that's just me!

The second sentence is fine because the word however is used with an adjective expressing the degree of coldness. It simply means the degree of coldness does not matter. He keeps the window open.

A simpler example -

however long it takes, finish it.

[Courtesy TheFreeDictionary]

The first sentence, as I said needs some change. I'd write it this way...

He leaves the window open all night, no matter how cold it is (outside). Or no matter how cold it is, he . . .

  • So, do you always use how together with an adjective or adverb, as my first sentence doesn't work well?
    – nima
    Aug 30, 2014 at 16:47
  • 3
    -1 because I do not think OP's first example is "okay". Aug 30, 2014 at 17:55
  • 1
    nearly -1 from me too. The first sentence needs an extra word or two No matter at the start would be enough to sort it, but as it stands, it's understandable but just not the way people say it. It's the 'both seem Okay' that's the problem - take that out and it'll improve the answer.
    – Frank
    Aug 30, 2014 at 18:50
  • @Frank I also thought the same way and thus was reluctant to put the sentence as it is in my answer. Anyway corrected now.
    – Maulik V
    Aug 31, 2014 at 2:49

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