American English

Definition of but conjunction from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    , NAmE//bʌt//
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  1. 1used to introduce a word or phrase that contrasts with what was said before I got it wrong. It wasn't the red one, but the blue one. His mother won't be there, but his father might be. It isn't that he lied, but he does tend to exaggerate.
  2. 2however; despite this I invited everyone, but only two people came. By the end of the day, we were tired but happy. Language Bankneverthelessconceding a point and making a counterargument While the movie is undoubtedly too long, it is nevertheless an intriguing work of art. It can be argued that the movie is too long. It is nonetheless an intriguing work of art. The movie is undoubtedly too long. Still, it is an intriguing work of art. Of course, huge chunks of the book have been sacrificed in order to make a two-hour movie, but it is nevertheless a successful piece of storytelling. Critics are wrong to argue that the movie's plot is too complicated. Certainly there are a couple of major twists, but audiences will have no difficulty following them. It is true that you cannot make a good movie without a good script, but it is equally true that a talented director can make a good script into an excellent movie. It remains to be seen whether these two movies herald a new era of westerns, but there is no doubt that they represent welcome additions to the genre.
  3. 3used when you are saying sorry about something I'm sorry, but I can't stay any longer.
  4. 4used to introduce a statement that shows that you are surprised or annoyed, or that you disagree But that's not possible! “Here's the money I owe you.” “But that's not right—it was only $10.”
  5. 5except I had no choice but to sign the contract.
  6. 6used before repeating a word in order to emphasize it Nothing, but nothing would make him change his mind.
  7. 7(literary) used to emphasize that something is always true She never passed her old home but she thought of the happy years she had spent there (= she always thought of them).
  8. Idioms
    1. 1if it were not for He would have played but for a knee injury.
    2. 2except for The square was empty but for a couple of cabs.
      but then (again)
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    1. 1however; on the other hand He might agree. But then again, he might have a completely different opinion.
    2. 2used before a statement that explains or gives a reason for what has just been said She speaks very good Italian. But then, she did live in Rome for a year (= so it's not surprising).
    you cannot/could not but… (formal)
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    used to show that everything else is impossible except the thing that you are saying What could he do but forgive her? (= that was the only thing possible)
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: but