Conjunctions are words that help connect two independent clauses and present them as one sentence. While some of them bring together clauses that share the same tone, a few others are used to introduce contrasting or contradictory elements. The word “whereas” is one such subordinating conjunction.
To use “whereas” in a sentence, make sure it introduces an element opposite to the first element in a sentence. The clause it introduces must be independent or capable of working as a standalone sentence. And, you can have or not have a comma (,) before it – but there should be no semicolon (;).
Keep reading if you’d like to have an even better understanding of using the conjunction in a sentence, the words and/or phrases it could be interchangeably used with, go through a fairly long list of sentences incorporating the word, etc.
Whereas – Definition
The word “whereas” is a conjunction used to highlight or point out a major contrast between two similar elements in a particular sentence. “Whereas” is primarily and almost always used to bring in an independent clause. If the second clause is dependent, “whereas” is not used.
How to Properly Use “Whereas” in a Sentence
Conjunctions help connect two independent phrases and not just a couple of words. Using conjunctions the right way is imperative to establish meaningful and fluent sentences in both written and spoken language. However, conjunctions could also have multiple meanings.
The conjunction “whereas” is typically used at the starting of a dependent (subordinate) clause. And the clause that “whereas” introduces is typically the second part of a sentence. The two clauses represent events that are supposed to happen simultaneously. For example:
- A triangle has three sides, whereas a square has four.
However, there are instances where the clause could appear before the primary clause, or a sentence could start with the word “whereas”. For instance:
- Whereas the UK has mild winters, Sweden winters are usually very cold.
As per the rule book, “whereas” contradicts a prior situation thoroughly explained in the preceding sentence or paragraph. People are, therefore, usually taught to use the word in the middle of a sentence, like every other conjunction.
Despite what the books say, however, the word “whereas” can be positioned at the start of a sentence and still work as a contrasting agent between the two independent clauses.
The aforementioned sentence, for instance, could work even if “whereas” is not at the start.
- The UK has mild winters, whereas Sweden winters are usually very cold.
Using a Comma with “Whereas”
Generally, a comma is used before “whereas” to differentiate the secondary clause from the original phrase.
Unlike other conjunctions, such as “but” and “and”, the word “whereas” always introduces independent clauses. In other words, the subordinate clause always contains non-essential information that the original clause of a given sentence could do without. For example:
- I am extremely tall, whereas my brother is short.
In this sentence, the statement before “whereas” is an independent clause, and the statement after it is also independent. This means if the second clause had to be cut out of the sentence, it would still read fine.
In other words, “I am very tall” is a grammatically correct and complete sentence. It doesn’t lose its meaning or effect without the second clause. Similarly, the second part of the sentence, “My brother is short” can also stand on its own.
There are, however, certain writers who commit the blunder of not adding a comma before “whereas”. This is probably because most sentences without a comma before “whereas” do not look jarring enough to warrant a second look. The sentence below, for example, does not look too bad without the comma even though it should have one:
- Your hair is naturally curly whereas my hair is straight and boring.
When used with “whereas”, the comma enhances legibility. And since there is typically a pause before a “whereas”, it also represents the spoken language accurately.
There are some writers who are guilty of using a semicolon (;) before “whereas”, which obviously is not correct.
- In San Diego, a major cause for pollution is fireplace smoke; whereas in Los Angeles, it’s paved-road dust.
In the above sentence, there should have been a comma instead of a semicolon before “whereas”. If you’d like to keep the semicolon, however, you’ll have to get rid of the “whereas”.
- In San Diego, a major cause of pollution is fireplace smoke; in Los Angeles, it’s paved-road dust.
It goes without saying that “whereas” isn’t preceded by “but” or “and” as those are conjunctions themselves. Using them with “whereas” will be unnecessary and also redundant.
Using “While” Instead of “Whereas”
It is not uncommon to see writers using the words “while” and “whereas” interchangeably. Here are a couple of sentences that can have either “whereas” or “while” in them:
- New York is on the east coast of America, whereas/while Washington lies to the west.
- The north is known for its mild, wet climate, while/whereas the south is known for its relatively hotter, dryer climate.
The two conjunctions, however, are not always interchangeable. Here are example sentences illustrating the point:
- The secretary managed all my appointments and meetings while I was in the hospital.
- I’ll make breakfast while you take a shower.
- While I was recuperating in the clinic, my husband was enjoying with his friends in Florence, Italy.
- She finished her debut novel while being employed full-time.
- She choked while eating and had to be rushed to the hospital.
The above sentences would sound awkward/incorrect if the “while” in them gets substituted with “whereas”.
A major reason why “while” and “whereas” are not always interchangeable is the two do not have the same meaning in relation to time. In other words, the word “while” denotes two events taking place simultaneously. On the other hand, “whereas” could indicate things not happening at the same time.
Using “On the Other Hand” in Place of “Whereas”
The phrase “on the other hand” and “whereas” have identical functions. However, there is a minor, yet significant difference in the ways they get incorporated in texts. For example:
- American football is the most popular sport in the U.S., whereas ice hockey reigns supreme in neighboring country Canada.
- American football is the most popular sport in the U.S. In neighboring country Canada, on the other hand, ice hockey reigns supreme.
While “whereas” can seamlessly blend into a sentence. The phrase “on the other hand” requires a sentence of its own.
Here is another pair of sentences proving the point:
- I like to live in the countryside, whereas my husband prefers the city.
- I like to live in the countryside. My husband, on the other hand, likes it in the city.
The phrase “on the other hand” can also be used to start a sentence. For example, the above sentence could also be written as:
- I like to live in the countryside. On the other hand, my husband likes it in the city.
Example Sentences with the Word “Whereas”
Here is a varied list of sentences using the word “whereas”:
- All of my brothers are physicians, whereas I am an accountant.
- Both of my siblings are tall, whereas I am relatively short.
- My entire family consumes meat, whereas I am a pure vegetarian.
- Leon expected his wife to acquiesce to everything he said, whereas that was not the case.
- My wife is a dog lover, whereas I am allergic to canines.
- People say “chips” in Britain, whereas in America they call them “fries”.
- She likes staying at home, whereas her husband loves to holiday.
- Whereas if the kid is left to herself, she will think better and more.
- But whereas a chemical substance’s crystalline form is fixed and stable, a living organism’s organized form is unstable and likely to change.
- There is no difference or distinction in God, whereas there is a duality in all things or substances arising from the matter.
- Brian Steel isn’t a human whereas every other character has certain human elements.
- He should be around 50, whereas his beautiful wife doesn’t look a year older than 25.
- You had a massive lunch, whereas I had to be content with a sandwich.
- He’s concerned, whereas I see it as an auspicious sign.
- Terrance is the paradigm of a perfect gentleman, whereas I’m just a simple guy.
- With her eclectic behavior, she actually relishes confrontations, whereas I choose to ignore them.
- Mark works slowly and with precision, whereas Jim tends to do things in haste and makes errors in the process.
- Steve is very friendly with his students, whereas other teachers are not so.
- Samantha can easily write around 5000 words during a weekday, whereas she cannot manage even 1000 on weekends.
- Lennie likes romantic comedies whereas Paul is a fan of detective stories.
- Philip can fluently speak both Mandarin and Japanese, whereas his brother Patrick is just not good with languages.
- The twins are quite different from each other: Dennis is reserved and shy whereas Paul is outgoing.
If you’re using the word “whereas” in your sentence, you need to be wary of primarily three things:
- The kind of clause the conjunction is introducing (the added clause or element should be contrasting and independent)
- The punctuation used before the word (a comma or no comma is fine and even an en dash works, but there should be no semicolon before the word)
- The placement of the word in the sentence (at the beginning or in the middle), etc.
While conforming to these rules might seem like a task, it becomes second-nature when you use the word – or any other conjunction, for that matter – in your writings regularly.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He’s one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don’t even want to know what he calls pancakes.