I’m out of my depths to ever say ‘Elements of Style’, the best book on grammar and writing rules, is flawed. E.B. White, the author, knew more about writing before he graduated beyond writing in crayon than I will know in my lifetime. Yet, one of his rules for writing I never fully understood and I questioned.

The confusion is how to join two independent clauses, mainly when to write: sentence1, but sentence2, versus when to write: although sentence1, sentence2.

Sentences of this type [sentence1, called loose sentences], isolated from their context, may seem to be in need of rewriting. As they make complete sense when the comma is reached, the second clause has the appearance of an after-thought. - Strunk Jr., William. Elements of Style.

The example given in the book: The situation is perilous, but there is still one chance of escape.

Should be rewritten, says the book: Although the situation is perilous, there is still one chance of escape.

The book goes on to say, “an occasional loose sentence (sentence1, but sentence2) prevents the style from becoming too formal and gives the reader a certain relief.”

Although I understood this to mean that the majority of times it’s better to use although/even though, my ear often told me otherwise and wanted me to write a loose sentence. In the example, I read it more in real time like someone is examining the landscape. The situation is perilous. But wait! There is still one chance of escape.

Sentence2 is good for a journalistic approach, where you want to be direct and confident or you’re an authority on an issue. You know what you’re going to say, and in your mind, no doubt lingers. It expresses an unwavering progression of thought. “Although I paid for the $1000 VIP pass to the show, they still charged me for popcorn.”

I tend to mostly use loose sentences. I imagine because that’s how we think and it feels natural to bounce back and forth as I journey through ideas. But good writing utilizes both of them. When in doubt, always trust the ear.