7 Facts on But as Conjunction: When, How, Examples


Conjunctions are words that that connect two clauses to make up a sentence. Let us explore the usage of the word “But” as a conjunction.

The word “But” is used as a conjunction in sentences when the coordinating clause is to contrast something that was mentioned in the main clause.

Let us look at a few examples that will help us understand the aforementioned explanation-

Sl. No.ExamplesExplanations
1.  We wanted to go to the club but there was a long line.  Both the independent clauses in this case make sense by themselves and are connected together by the conjunction ‘but’.
 2. The Millers are the ones hosting the party but they themselves are late.  Here as well, the second clause is connected to the first clause with the help of the conjunction ‘but’.
Examples of ‘But’ as conjunctions

Let us explore a few more examples and facts about it.

When is “but” a conjunction?

Let us find out about the times “but” functions as a conjunction.

“But” serves its purpose as a conjunction when it connects two clauses to form a compound sentence.

Here are a couple examples of it.

Sl. No.ExamplesExplanations
 3. She wanted only chocolate ice-cream but the parlor was all out of it.  Over here, ‘but’ is considered a conjunction as it links two clauses transforming them into one compound sentence.
 4. The teacher himself couldn’t solve the problem but his smartest student solved it in front of the entire class.In this given example, the conjunction ‘but’, once again coordinates the second clause to the first one.
Examples of ‘But’ as conjunctions

How is “but” a conjunction?

Let us discuss how “but” can come to be used as a conjunction.

“But” can come to be used as a conjunction when it is used after the main clause to connect it to the coordinating clause.

Below are a few examples about this.

Sl. No.ExamplesExplanations
 5.The party asked for a large portion of food but the catering company mistakenly gave them a medium portion.The word ‘but’ in this sentence is used between two clauses which consequently connects said clauses, thus making it a conjunction.
 6.He tried his best but unfortunately couldn’t succeed in securing the job.The second clause, even though independent from the first clause adds information to said clause and that is done with the help of the conjunction ‘but’.
Examples of ‘But’ as conjunctions

Is “but” always a conjunction?

Let us look into the fact whether “but” is always a conjunction or not.

“But” may not always function as a conjunction. It can also be used as an adverb, a preposition and in some cases even a noun.

Let us look at some examples about “but” not being used as a conjunction.

Sl. No.Grammar FormExamplesExplanations
 7.NounI don’t want to hear even one ‘but’ from since what you did was very wrong.  Over here the word ‘but’ is used as a noun as it is referred to in an abstract term rather than in its functional form.
 8.AdverbIt was but a small dream of mine to drive across the country.  The adverb version of ‘but’ means ‘only’ and in the given example it serves that very function.
 9.PrepositionThey were nothing but helpful in giving us directions to this restaurant.  Prepositional ‘but’ means ‘apart from’ and in this case it is used in that particular context.
Examples of ‘But’ as a noun, adverb and preposition.

When is “but” not considered as conjunction?

Let us take a look at all of the times when “but” functions in grammatical forms other than a conjunction.

“But” is not considered a conjunction when it is used in any context other than the purpose of connecting two sentences. Depending on how and where it is used, the word’s meaning also gets slightly changed.

Below are a few examples of “but” being used as anything but a conjunction.

Sl. No.Grammar FormExamplesExplanations
 10.NounThe boss did not want to hear an ‘ands’ or ‘buts’ as he wanted direct results.Over here the word ‘but’ is used as a noun as it is referred to in an abstract term rather than in its functional form.
 11.AdverbAfter all, he is but a small employee of this large company.The adverb version of ‘but’ means ‘only’ and in the given example it serves that very function.
 12.PrepositionShe was nothing but a gracious host when we went to her house.Prepositional ‘but’ means ‘apart from’ and in this case it is used in that particular context.
Examples of ‘But’ as a noun, adverb and preposition.

What kind of conjunction is the word “but”?

Like most conjunctions, “but” also falls under a certain sub-type- Let us explore.

“But” comes under the sub-type of ‘coordinating conjunction’ as it is used to coordinate two sentences together.

Here are a few examples of “but” being used a coordinating conjunction.

Sl. No.ExamplesExplanations
 13.The man was put behind bars by the court but somehow he managed to escape after two weeks.The word ‘but’ links the coordinating clause to the first clause therefore making it a coordinating conjunction.
 14.If the faculty could impose the changes then they would but sadly it is not in their hands.Both the independent clauses in this case make sense by themselves and are connected together by the coordinating conjunction ‘but’.
Examples of ‘But’ as conjunctions

Why is “but” a coordinating conjunction?

Let us dive deeper into why the conjunction “but” falls into the sub-category that it does.

“But” is considered a coordinating conjunction as it coordinates two clauses with each other. In other words, it links two independent clauses, which make sense by themselves, together to formulate a compound sentence.

Let us take a look at the conjunction “but” being used to coordinating sentences.

Sl. No.ExamplesExplanations
 15.I wanted to finish my college assignment last night but couldn’t as I fell asleep.Over here, ‘but’ is considered a coordinating conjunction as it links two clauses transforming them into one compound sentence.
 16.The couple wanted a small ceremony but it turned into an extravagant affair anyway.Here as well, the second clause is connected to the first clause with the help of the coordinating conjunction ‘but’.
Examples of ‘But’ as conjunctions

Examples of “but” as conjunctions

Let us take a look at a few more examples of ‘but’ as conjunctions for better understanding.

Sl. No.ExamplesExplanations
 17.The professor did not get angry like we expected him to but he did seem disappointedThe word ‘but’ in this sentence is used between two clauses which consequently connects said clauses, thus making it a coordinating conjunction.
 18.Mina asked for John’s help but he was too busy to tend to her problems at that point.In this given example, the coordinating conjunction ‘but’, once again coordinates the second clause to the first one.
 19.My cousin wanted me to volunteer at the vent but I couldn’t as my hands were full.The word ‘but’ links the coordinating clause to the first clause therefore making it a coordinating conjunction.
 20.They did not let us in yesterday but we might be able to get in today.The second clause, even though independent from the first clause adds information to said clause and that is done with the help of the coordinating conjunction ‘but’.
 21.My friend asked me to make her a cake but I completely forgot about it.Over here, ‘but’ is considered a coordinating conjunction as it links two clauses transforming them into one compound sentence.
Examples of ‘But’ as conjunctions

Conclusion

Therefore, it is evident that the word “but” has multiple grammatical meanings in addition to serving as a coordinating conjunction.

Vriddhi Kapoor

Hi.....I’m a graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. I wish to do a Masters in the same field someday and continue my career in Academia. Let's connect through LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vriddhi-kapoor-513bb4202

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