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    • Join Date: Mar 2010
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    #1

    Question I would really appreciate help with the word 'but' please

    Hey guys,
    I’m a bit stuck on an English question and I would really appreciate any help.
    My problem is to do with the application of the word: but.

    ‘I really enjoyed that lesson but we learnt a lot’ – This sentence to the best of my knowledge is incorrect as there is no contrast between the part before the ‘but’ and the part after it. Or another way of putting it, what comes after the ‘but’ doesn’t surprise you. The sentence would be correct if for example it was written ‘I really enjoyed that lesson and we learnt a lot’ or perhaps (for a different meaning) ‘I really enjoyed that lesson but we didn’t learn very much’.

    My question is how come the grammatically incorrect sentence ‘I really enjoyed that lesson but we learnt a lot’ sounds correct when we write ‘I really enjoyed that lesson but we did learn a lot’ even though based on usage of ‘but’ there is still no contrast; or is there one that I can’t see?

    There are other examples E.g.:
    ‘I got a good result but I revised for ages’ – Grammatically incorrect (I think).
    ‘I got a good result but I did revise for ages’ – Sounds correct but why?


    Thank you for any help, I am very grateful.

  1. phrasemix's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Feb 2010
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    #2

    Re: I would really appreciate help with the word 'but' please

    Hi richuk,
    I don't really agree that adding "did" to these sentences makes them any more grammatical.

    Talking about a sentence as being grammatical can be tricky, though, because you can often reinterpret the sentence in a different way or think of a situation in which it might be grammatical.

    For example, ‘I really enjoyed that lesson but we learnt a lot’ would be OK if the speaker has the belief that it's not possible to enjoy a lesson and learn from it at the same time. Certainly there could be people who think this way.

    I can't see how adding "did" would change that, though.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Jun 2008
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    #3

    Re: I would really appreciate help with the word 'but' please

    Quote Originally Posted by richuk View Post
    My question is how come the grammatically incorrect sentence ‘I really enjoyed that lesson but we learnt a lot’ sounds correct when we write ‘I really enjoyed that lesson but we did learn a lot’ even though based on usage of ‘but’ there is still no contrast; or is there one that I can’t see?
    Where you use 'grammatically', you mean 'semantically'.
    It sounds more correct because, by your own argument, it sounds 'more like a contrast' or 'a surprise' when we say:
    "We <verbed1> but we did <verb2>" than when we say:
    "We <verbed1> but we <verbed2>."

    There are other examples E.g.:
    ‘I got a good result but I revised for ages’ – Grammatically incorrect (I think). No.
    ‘I got a good result but I did revise for ages’ – Sounds correct but why?

    Because it is correct. Using 'I did revise' instead of 'I revised' only gives it the extra contrast that you think necessary.

    "I got a good result" might imply 'I'm very clever", "I'm better than you", "The teacher likes me best".
    But the speaker is trying to preempt anyone thinking those things by giving an alternative explanation - "I revised a lot".
    So the primary 'contrast' you are looking for comes not from the actual words said, but from the other possible implications of those words.

    Thank you for any help, I am very grateful.
    R


    • Join Date: Mar 2010
    • Posts: 61
    #4

    Re: I would really appreciate help with the word 'but' please

    Thank you very much

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