Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

  

English definition of “but”

but

preposition, conjunction     strong /bʌt/ weak /bət/
B1 except: Eventually , all but one of them promised to come to his leaving party . He's anything but violent (= not violent in any way). I'd have crashed the car but for your warning . This is the last episode but one (= one before the last) of this drama serial . She's one of those guests who does nothing but complain . This car has been nothing but trouble - it's always breaking down!Excluding Grammar:ButBut is a conjunction.Grammar:But as a linking wordWe use but to link items which are the same grammatical type (coordinating conjunction). But is used to connect ideas that contrast.Grammar:But meaning ‘except’But means ‘except’ when it is used after words such as all, everything/nothing, everyone/no one, everybody/nobody:Grammar:But for + reasonBut for is used to introduce the reason why something didn’t happen:Grammar:All but meaning ‘almost completely’Grammar:Conjunctions: contrastingThe conjunctions but and although/though connect ideas that contrast. Whereas is also used but it is not as common:Grammar:ButBut is a coordinating conjunction used to connect ideas that contrast. Coordinating conjunctions connect items which are the same grammatical type.Grammar:Although/thoughAlthough/though can be used to contrast ideas. Although/though are subordinating conjunctions used to connect a subordinate clause to a main clause, like after, as, before, if, since, that, even though, even if.Grammar:But or although?But cannot be used in the same way as although/though. We use but to connect items which are the same grammatical type (coordinating conjunction).Grammar:Even though, even ifEven though and even if are also used as subordinating conjunctions in the same way as although/though. Even though is similar to although but it makes a stronger contrast:Grammar:Conjunctions: typical errors[from a brochure advertising an English course in London]
(Definition of but prepositionconjunction from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of but

Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Excluding, but you might be interested in these topics from the Including and excluding topic area:

Definitions of “but” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

familiarity

a good knowledge of something, or the fact that you know it so well

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More