What is the difference between however and whereas?

Cooking is hard, whereas eating is easy.

Can I use however in that sentence (instead of whereas) or not? If not, why?

The meaning of the two words seems very much the same: they both show a contrast between two things. I am confused about how and when to use them in sentences.


4 Answers 4


However you look at this question it's not easy to answer

Whereas ignoring it is the easy option

However, neither will keep me awake at night

I'd always use "whereas" as the second part of a comparison. "however" could also be used in this way. Often "however" would have a comma after it when used as the second part of a comparison.

I take "however" as something like "how ever you take the meaning of this" .
OTOH "whereas" is something like "in contrast to the previous opinion"


Cooking is hard, whereas eating is easy.

Whereas is a conjunction used to compare the difference between two things. It is most commonly used to mean "although" or "while in contrast" and could introduce a dependent clause.

In the closest definition to whereas, however is a conjunctive adverb used to contrast two independent clauses. You wouldn't use it with a dependent clause in this sense.

I would use "however" instead of "whereas" in your example sentence.

Cooking is hard; However, eating is easy.

The choice of punctuation before "however" depends on which style guide you're using. Many recommend using the semicolon, but it isn't incorrect to use a period. You would not use a comma after a conjunction like "whereas", but you should use it after a conjunctive adverb like "however".

You would not use "whereas" in this sentence, because you aren't showing a direct difference between two facts.

We thought she was going to come to the party, however, she didn't show up.

If you wanted to use "whereas" in a similar sentence, you would need to compare what we thought with what someone else thought.

We thought she was going to come to the party, whereas they were certain she wouldn't.


"Whereas" is used in the prefaces to laws. In this context, "whereas" does not mean "contrary to what was said previously".

  • 2
    "Whereas" has other meanings too.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 23:19
  • @TRomano -- Indeed.
    – Jasper
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 23:25
  • @wrod — You made a good-faith edit. I rejected it, so I owe you an explanation. Your edit provided well-sourced positive definitions for whereas in a legal context. Please consider posting them as an answer; I would upvote that answer. But I chose to not include a positive definition in my answer, because I have seen many uses of "whereas" in this legal context that I think are logically invalid.
    – Jasper
    Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 0:44

The word "however" often is used to caution the listener Don't get the wrong idea from what I've just said:

Of course you can go outdoors! However, you'll need to wear your overcoat.

"Whereas" cannot introduce such a cautionary remark in respect to the listener's understanding of the first clause in the pair:

Of course you can go outdoors! Whereas Wrong you'll need to wear your overcoat.

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