We use the word "but" to show difference. It is like the opposite of "and".
- She is smart and nice. (2 good things)
- The house is old and expensive. (2 bad things)
- He is stupid but nice. (1 good thing 1 bad thing)
- The house is nice but expensive. (1 good thing 1 bad thing)
We also use "but" to show something unexpected or surprising.
- I studied hard, but I failed the test.
- She is pretty and nice, but she doesn't have a boyfriend.
- She loves cooking, but she hates eating.
We often use "but" to connect 2 shorter sentences. Sentence, + but + sentence
Separate the two sentences with a comma when writing.
- They are short, but they are good at basketball.
- Math is hard, but science is easy for me.
- Pizza is delicious, but carrots are disgusting.
- I like her, but she doesn't like me.
- The hotel is old and dirty, but it is still expensive.
Also, we can use different verb tenses in the sentences.
- He is a good worker, but he was a bad student when he was young.
- The cookies are cold now, but they were warm an hour ago.
- The TV show is boring now, but the 1st season was so exciting.
- I exercised today, but I will not exercise tomorrow.
- I didn't go on vacation this year, but I am going to go next year.
We can also use "but" between two adjectives or nouns when the subject is the same.
Bonus Tips and Points
- He is big, but not strong.
(=He is big, but he is not strong.)
- The man is fast but weak.
(=The man is fast, but he is weak.)
1. We can use "but" when we are saying no politely.
A) Would you like to go on a date with me?
B) I would like to, but I have a boyfriend.
A) Could you help me with this report?
B) I am sorry, but I have a meeting in 20 minutes.
2. We can use "but" to criticize something in a nicer, softer way.
A) It looks pretty good, but I think we can improve the introduction.
B) I agree.
A) How does this dress look?
B) I like the color, but I don't think it is a good style for you.
A) How is James doing at work?
B) He works hard, but he makes many mistakes.
3. We use "but" when talking about the pros (+) and cons (-) of something.
A) This apartment is in a great neighborhood, but I think it is too expensive for us.
B) I really like it, but I think you are right.
A) This car is the fastest and coolest, but it is not very safe.
B) It is a beautiful car, but since safety is the most important thing for me I think I need to look at a different kind of car.
A) That company offers a high salary and incredible benefits, but the employees have to work very long hours and it can be quite stressful.
B) No job is perfect. They offer a high salary for a reason. You just need to decide what you want.
4. We can also put "but" at the beginning of a sentence.
Note: Many people avoid using "but" at the beginning of a sentence when they write, but it is not a problem if you do it sometimes. If you want to avoid using "but", then just use the word "however" at the beginning of a sentence. It has the same meaning.Study these free English lessons to improve your English speaking. If you learn these common sentence patterns well, then your English speaking will improve greatly and you will be able to have fluent conversations in English in the near future! Study the lessons well, practice using the sentences and questions at home and in real life, and make sure to come back to review the material so you do not forget. If you do these three things, then you will be speaking English like a native English speaker in no time!
- He is very handsome. But he does not have a girlfriend.
- I like avocados and they are healthy. But they are too expensive where I live.