Albeit Meaning, Examples, & How to Use It Correctly

Click below to listen to a recording of this passage about the word “albeit.”

 

There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language, but many are obsolete (no longer useful). When you search for any English word on the Internet, you can find a definition, synonyms, and example sentences. Additionally, you can often find how common the word has been over the last few centuries. When you look up albeit, you’ll see that it was very popular and common about 400 years ago, but it went out of style for a long time. However, over the last few decades, the word has started to make a comeback!

It’s hard to say why certain words fall out of usage or become common again. Language is complex and always adapting with the times, but that’s a discussion for another day! Since the the term has returned to the common English lexicon (vocabulary), we are going to take a closer look at the word and its usage.

So, what does albeit mean? How do you pronounce it? What are some synonyms for it? Finally, how can you use it in your own speech and writing? We will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s define the term:

What does it mean?

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In short, the term simply means “although.” However, it is more limited in scope than although. Both native and non-native English speakers feel frustrated with this definition. It’s easy to say that the term means the same thing as “although,” but it doesn’t really explain it. So, let’s try to find a more exact definition.

Albeit Definition 

Conjunction – Although; used to express contradiction or to set limitations on an action.

While this definition may shed a little more light on the subject, it still doesn’t give you the whole picture. It also doesn’t explain how the word differs from although. We will discuss the specific differences in usage a little later on, but first, let’s look at some other synonyms:

Albeit synonyms

Needless to say, the best synonym for the term is “although.” However, it’s not the only one. Here’s a list of its most common synonyms:

  • Even though
  • Even if
  • However
  • But
  • Notwithstanding

How to pronounce albeit

Next, let’s look at how to pronounce the word. Fortunately, albeit sounds pretty much how it looks. The word has three syllables and sounds like all-bee-it. However, when spoken quickly, the “L” sound can almost sound silent. Additionally, it does not have a hard “T” sound at the end of the word. So, to the untrained ear, it might sound more like ah(l)-bee-ih(t).

How to Use Albeit

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Now let’s take a look at one of the most complicated aspects of the term. People often get confused because albeit is essentially a less versatile version of although. In any case, it is a conjunction that is most often used when someone wants to contradict or qualify an action. This can occur with or without an adverb, depending on the context of the sentence. So, let’s look at some examples with and without adverbs:

Contradict or qualify an action (with an adverb)

  • They are making progress on the project, albeit slowly.
  • He passed the ball to his teammate, albeit poorly.
  • The student gave her presentation, albeit hastily.

Illustration of a loose knot, with text underneath saying "The man tied a knot in the rope, albeit loosely"

Contradict or qualify an action (without an adverb)

  • He got a passing grade, albeit a low one.
  • We made it to class on time, albeit at the last minute. 
  • She managed to get out of bed, albeit with great difficulty.

As you can see, the term usually follows an independent clause and introduces a dependent clause that adds contradictory or qualifying information about the independent clause. Though it’s more common to see albeit followed by an adverb, it can be used to introduce a clause that does not contain any adverbs. In any case, when used in this way, the word is always preceded by a comma.

Can I start a sentence with albeit?

In short, yes, you can. However, it is less common to use the word this way. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Albeit gradually, the old man rose from his armchair.
  • Albeit gently, the father scolded his son.
  • Albeit at a leisurely pace, the boy headed home for dinner.

As you can see, you can use the word in much the same way when it’s at the beginning of the sentence. You simply switch the dependent and independent clauses. Additionally, you must change the comma placement. When albeit starts a sentence, the comma follows the dependent clause. Here are the same sentences above with the term moved to the second clause, where you would usually find it:

  • The old man rose from his armchair, albeit gradually, 
  • The father scolded his son, albeit gently.
  • The boy headed home for dinner, albeit at a leisurely pace. 

Albeit vs. Although

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While “although” shares the same meaning, the two terms are not always interchangeable. The former is used to introduce dependent (subordinate) clauses. However, When a subordinate clause begins with albeit, although, even though, or even if, it is known as a concessive clause. A concessive clause introduces ideas that contradict or qualify the action of the main clause.

As previously mentioned, its usage is limited when compared to although. Although — as well as all the synonyms listed above — can introduce an independent clause, while albeit cannot. Here are a few examples:

  • CORRECT: He decided to cheat on the test, although he knows that cheating is wrong.
  • INCORRECT: He decided to cheat on the test, albeit he knows that cheating is wrong.
  • CORRECT: I wanted to compete in the race, even if I would probably lose.
  • INCORRECT: I wanted to compete in the race, albeit I would probably lose.
  • CORRECT: The company changed its banking system, even though the old system had been working just fine. 
  • INCORRECT: The company changed its banking system, albeit the old system had been working just fun.
  • CORRECT: She invited a hundred people to the party, although very few people were likely to show up.
  • INCORRECT: She invited a hundred people to the party, albeit very few people were likely to show up.

Conclusion

Albeit made its way back into the English language after a long period of being obsolete. While it is still considered a relatively formal word, you can still hear it in everyday English conversations. It’s one of the best ways to express contradictory ideas in a sentence. In short, knowing the meaning of albeit and understanding how to use it will help you improve your English speaking and writing skills! We hope you found this guide useful! As always, for all things English conversation, grammar, or job-related, visit Magoosh Speaking!

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Film and Philosophy from the University of Georgia. It was during his time in school that he published his first written work. After serving as a casting director in the Atlanta film industry for two years, Matthew acquired TEFL certification and began teaching English abroad. In 2017, Matthew started writing for dozens of different brands across various industries. During this time, Matthew also built an online following through his film blog. If you’d like to learn more about Matthew, you can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or his personal website!
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