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    • Join Date: Jun 2008
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    #1

    "But" when not used as a conjuction

    Ok, so the word "but" has many usages.

    It can be used as a conjuction.

    Example:
    A. The hike up the mountain is long but the view on top is worth it.
    B. That basketball player is small but fast. (....small but he is fast.)


    The above examples, I can easily understand.

    But I sometimes have to re-read and think over when the word "but" is used in other ways.



    1. The bus has all but two of the schoolchildren.
    2. I've all but finished the book.
    3. There but for the grace of God go I.
    4. The cookies are all but gone.
    5. It was but one step to a fall over the edge of the mountain.
    6. There is not a politician in the area but follows public opinion in fear.


    These examples are tricky for me.
    Can someone tell me how widely used theses non-conjuction usages of "but" are?

    For the sentence number 4, I can't figure it out. Is it saying that the cookies are all-most all gone? Why not then just say, Almost all the cookies are gone? I find it clearer. Or is it saying, All the cookies are still uneaten, but they have gone somewhere else. Confusing!!!

  1. mara_ce's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "But" when not used as a conjuction

    Here are the possible usages of but.

    Results for but - Longman English Dictionary Online

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "But" when not used as a conjuction

    Quote Originally Posted by kinghumpty View Post

    4. The cookies are all but gone.

    Can someone tell me how widely used theses non-conjuction usages of "but" are?
    They are common enough for you to need to understand them. You shouldn't need to use them.

    For the sentence number 4, I can't figure it out. Is it saying that the cookies are all-most all gone? [almost]
    Yes. Apparently you did figure it out!

    Why not then just say, Almost all the cookies are gone? I find it clearer.
    English didn't evolve for you. However, you are free to express it this way.

    Or is it saying, All the cookies are still uneaten, but they have gone somewhere else. No
    Confusing!!!
    It's only confusing until you know what it means - same with any element of language.
    R.

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