How to say 'however'
Hello. One thing that I've struggled with more than others in German is the adverbs. Specifically the many ways you can say some variation of “however.”
Looking up “dennoch” on wiktionary I see that it means “however.” Both “trotzdem” and “jedoch” are listed as synonyms. Going to “trotzdem” - that apparently is a synonym for “obwohl.” Meanwhile “jedoch” is apparently a synonym for “aber.”
Following that apparent train of logic, does this mean “dennoch” is the same as “obwohl” and “aber”? Probably not.
I've taken notes to try to understand them.
Aber: But (to express a limiting viewpoint)
Sondern: But rather (requires a negative preface, to express a contrast with it)
Jedoch: However (close to Aber and Hingegen)
Hingegen: On the other hand
Dennoch: All the same
Trotzdem: “Nonetheless” when used at the start of a sentence. Can rarely be used colloquially as a conjunction to start a subordinate clause, in which case it means, “despite.”
Allerdings: Can mean “however” (in which case it is a slightly weaker version of "jedoch"). It can also mean, “truly, indeed.” Depends on context.
I know as an English speaker even I would find it difficult to explain to a foreigner exactly the differences between, “But, However, Although, Nonetheless, Nevertheless, etc.” much less come up with “rules” for when to use them. I've even seen disagreement among English speakers about what should be used where.
Some overlap more than others. Is the situation similar in German?
Very interesting! As an German native I struggle with the English words, too. I guess it's about the right "feel" of the words.
Some thoughts: "Trotzdem" is no synonym for "obwohl" and does not start a subordinate clause - at least not in Standard German. Nevertheless, it is used in such a way in some regions (to me it sounds cringeworthy). An example on the difference: "Obwohl er die Grammatik nicht versteht, spricht er trotzdem gut Englisch."
"Aber" is the most common word of the lot and is used in many ways. Examples: "Das Baby ist sehr klein, aber gesund." "Du bist aber groß geworden!" "Ich stimme dir zu, möchte aber hinzufügen, dass... " "Aber, aber, reg dich doch nicht so auf!"
"Despite" is probably best translated with "trotz". "Trotz seiner frühen Geburt ist das Baby gesund."
"However" as a stand-alone at the beginning of a sentence could be translated imo with "Wie dem auch sei"
Just to add to this nice explanation:
In spoken German you often will hear:
Wie auch immer - for however
Was auch immer - for whatever
Doesn't make much sense to try to translate the auch with also or too. It is part of the expression and could be seen like the so in e.g. whatsoever
I don't think "however" = "Wie dem auch sei". I'd simply translate that as "Be that as it may"; "Wie auch immer" can mean the same thing.
"Wie auch immer" could be translated as "Anyway, ..." (similar to "Jedenfalls [gehe ich...]" / "Jedenfalls, [ich gehe...]"), "One way or another" (there's also "So oder so, [ich gehe...]" for that), or, in a different context, "No matter how...":
"The man who offered to buy my car came to have a look at it this morning. He was weird, he kept talking about how Earth is actually flat. How can anyone seriously believe that? What's wrong with people these days? Wie auch immer - he bought the car after I gave him a small discount and drove off with it." Here, like "Anyway, ...", it puts an end to what you talked about before and ("never mind that") leads back to the (main / important) topic.
Or: "Anna and I are going to the festival on Saturday. Would you like to come along?" "I'm rather busy with my garden at the moment..." "Wie auch immer, we're leaving at ten, in case you can make it after all."
Different context: "Wie auch immer ich den USB-Stick drehe (or: Wie ich den USB-Stick auch drehe), er passt nicht in den Computer." "No matter which way I rotate the USB stick, it doesn't fit into the computer." Accordingly: "Wohin auch immer ich gehe / Wohin ich auch gehe, sehen mich die Leute komisch an." "No matter where I go, people give me strange looks."; "Wer auch immer die Pizza erfunden hat, ich bin ihm ewig dankbar." "I'm eternally grateful to whoever invented pizza."; etc. A simpler way to phrase it would be, "Egal(,) wie ich ihn drehe", "Egal(,) wohin ich gehe", etc.
As for the original question, I think "jedoch" is closest to "however". It's a "but/aber" with an added stress.
"Obwohl er die Grammatik nicht versteht, spricht er trotzdem gut Englisch." - das ist mir etwas zu viel. ich würde entweder "Obwohl er die Grammatik nicht versteht, spricht er gut Englisch." sagen, oder "Trotzdem er die Grammatik nicht versteht, spricht er gut Englisch." (mit betonung auf "-dem", weniger gebräuchlich, klingt literarischer für mich.)
In german you say wie auch immer.
For example: wie auch immer, habe ich meine Meinung geändert. It does not have a deeper meaning it shall just express that in somehow someone changed his or her mind. It is often used by oral summaries when you want to keep something short and simple without too complicated explenations. Wie auch immer komme ich nun zum Ende.
Hope that made it a bit visual