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Conjunction - But

Conjunction - But

 

 

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Conjunction - But

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn how to use the conjunction "but". As we have learned in previous lessons, a conjunction joins two words, phrases, or clauses. The conjunction "but" indicates a contrast between two terms.  Let us learn how to use the conjunction "but", and then we will listen to a dialog and hear how it is used.


The conjunction "but" can be used to show the contrast between two words. For example, we might say "David likes beef, but not vegetables.", or "Mrs. Smith drinks coffee, but not tea.".We notice in these sentences with the conjunction "but" that we do not need to repeat the subject and verb if they are shared by the two clauses. For example, we could have said "David likes beef, but David does not like vegetables.".

We could also have said "Mrs. Smith drinks coffee, but Mrs. Smith does not drink tea.".  
The conjunction "but" can also be used to contrast two phrases. For example, we might say "David enjoys playing football, but not watching TV.", or "Jennifer likes driving to work, but not going by bus.".  We could repeat the subject, but we do not have to, since it is shared by both clauses. For example, we could say "David enjoys playing football, but David does not enjoy watching TV.".

We could have said "Jennifer likes driving to work, but Jennifer does not like going to work by bus.".
The conjunction "but" can also be used to contrast two entire clauses or sentences. For example, we could say "Jennifer likes vegetables, but David likes beef.". We can see the contrast between the two clauses.

The conjunction "but" provides an efficient way of referring to the previous clause without repeating it. For example, we could have said "Jennifer likes vegetables. David does not like vegetables. David likes beef.".So we can see that using conjunctions can streamline our language use.
Listen to the dialog. Jennifer wakes up at midnight and realizes that David is in the living room.

Jennifer:  It is midnight, but you are not sleeping.

David: I am tired, but cannot sleep.

Jennifer:  Are you sick?

David:  I am not sick, but I do not feel good.

Jennifer:  Do you want some milk?

David: I want some milk, but not cold milk.

Jennifer: I will bring it, but it will be a few minutes.

Jennifer starts this conversation by saying "It is midnight, but you are not sleeping.". Notice the implied contrast in the statement. Jennifer could have said "It is midnight. You are usually sleeping at midnight, but you are not sleeping now.".

David replies "I am tired, but cannot sleep.".The contrast between the two statements is clear. David could have said "I am tired, but I cannot sleep.". But since the subject is the same in both sentences, he does not need to repeat the subject "I".

After Jennifer asks "Are you sick?", David replies, "I am not sick, but I do not feel good.". He could have said "I am not sick, but do not feel good.", since the subject, "I", of the two sentence is the same. Again, we see that the conjunction "but" helps us contrast two ideas. After Jennifer asks "Do you want some milk?",

David answers "I want some milk, but not cold milk.". He could have said "I want some milk, but I do not want cold milk," but since the subject and verb are the same in both clauses, he does not need to repeat them. Again, we see the implied contrast between the two sentences. The complete thought is "I want some milk. The milk is in the refrigerator. The refrigerator is cold. The milk is cold. I do not want cold milk."   

Jennifer responds "I will bring it, but it will be a few minutes.". She might have said "I will bring the milk. The milk is cold. I will make the milk warm. It will be a few minutes."  So we can again see that the conjunction "but" streamlines communication.

Now that we have an idea of how the conjunction "but" works, let us listen to the dialog again. Listen to the contrasts and the implied contrasts.

Jennifer: It is midnight, but you are not sleeping.

David: I am tired, but cannot sleep.

Jennifer:  Are you sick?

David:  I am not sick, but I do not feel good.

Jennifer:  Do you want some milk?

David: I want some milk, but not cold milk.

Jennifer: I will bring it, but it will be a few minutes.

Great! You have learned another little word with great importance and power. The conjunction "but" will help you explain and clarify your thoughts and opinions with more finesse and clarity. Use it to provide contrast and nuance to your conversations in English.