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    #1

    nothing but

    Hi,

    I got a question about "nothing but". I just want to know how you guys think.

    We often say some kind of expressions like
    "He has done nothing but lie to you"

    I know and heard that exact grammatical function of 'but' in that case remains controversial.

    So, what I want to know is what you, native speakers, consider 'but' as, and use it.
    Do you accept it as preposition and use it or as conjunction?
    Just wanna know your opinions!

    HOpe you could answer me when you stop by

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: nothing but

    It's a preposition, meaning 'except (for)', 'apart from'.

    ps. please try not use use chatlish forms in this forum - wanna want to.

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    #3

    Re: nothing but

    Quote Originally Posted by learnerr View Post
    Hi,

    I got a question about "nothing but". I just want to know how you guys think.

    We often say some kind of expressions like
    "He has done nothing but lie to you"

    I know and heard that exact grammatical function of 'but' in that case remains controversial.

    So, what I want to know is what you, native speakers, consider 'but' as, and use it.
    Do you accept it as preposition and use it or as conjunction?
    Just wanna know your opinions!

    HOpe you could answer me when you stop by

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) The teacher has given you and me an excellent answer.

    (2) Since you seem very interested in parts of speech (as am I),

    I thought that you would like to know that your sentence is

    probably a short, "modern" way to say:

    He has done nothing but [that he does] lie to you.

    As you can see, "but" is part of the conjunction "but that" that

    connects "He has done nothing" and "he does lie." Of course, in

    2011, nobody speaks like that, but -- historically speaking -- that

    is how this kind of sentence developed.

    Here are some more examples given by the great scholar George

    O. Curme in his 1931 masterpiece A Grammar of the English Language:

    He does nothing but [that he does] laugh.

    He couldn't do anything but [that he did] mournfully acquiesce.


    P.S. When you feel that your English has reached university level,

    you might consider securing a copy of Professor Curme's two-volume

    masterpiece. It gives you the historical background for the sentences

    that we use today.

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    #4

    Re: nothing but

    Thank you both for Fivejedjon and TheParser
    and sorry for late reply
    Think it is agreeable to regard it as 'preposition' as Fivejedjon said,
    and thank you also for additional advice not to use chatish words
    I also appreciate TheParser for your tremendous interest and effort for my question and I indeed try to find the book "Grammar of the English" you mentioned,
    but found it hard to find the book (not many stores do not have it)
    anyway thank you so much!

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    #5

    Re: nothing but

    I mean no disrespect to TheParser or Curme, but if you are going to buy a grammar, do not buy one published in 1931.

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    #6

    Re: nothing but

    Quote Originally Posted by learnerr View Post
    Thank you both for Fivejedjon and TheParser
    and sorry for late reply
    Think it is agreeable to regard it as 'preposition' as Fivejedjon said,
    and thank you also for additional advice not to use chatish words
    I also appreciate TheParser for your tremendous interest and effort for my question and I indeed try to find the book "Grammar of the English" you mentioned,
    but found it hard to find the book (not many stores do not have it)
    anyway thank you so much!
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) Yes, I think that it is difficult to find a copy of Professor

    Curme's two-volume masterpiece.

    (2) If you are able to get a copy of his Grammar of the English

    Language, you will find it a book that you will treasure all your

    life. The professor shows you the historical development of the

    language with many, many quotations. You will find the answers

    to many of the questions that you may have.

    (3) His book is truly a "must" (indispensable) for anyone who

    wants to really understand the language. The more you study

    English in depth, the more you will appreciate this book.

    (4) Thank you again for your very kind note.

    P.S. Do not make the mistake that I made in marking up

    my copy in ink. Be sure to make notes only in pencil. Then you

    can erase them. Quite a few people have observed that the only

    way to really read something is to mark it up with notes written

    by the enthusiastic reader.

  3. freezeframe's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: nothing but

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) Yes, I think that it is difficult to find a copy of Professor

    Curme's two-volume masterpiece.

    (2) If you are able to get a copy of his Grammar of the English

    Language, you will find it a book that you will treasure all your

    life. The professor shows you the historical development of the

    language with many, many quotations. You will find the answers

    to many of the questions that you may have.

    (3) His book is truly a "must" (indispensable) for anyone who

    wants to really understand the language. The more you study

    English in depth, the more you will appreciate this book.

    (4) Thank you again for your very kind note.

    P.S. Do not make the mistake that I made in marking up

    my copy in ink. Be sure to make notes only in pencil. Then you

    can erase them. Quite a few people have observed that the only

    way to really read something is to mark it up with notes written

    by the enthusiastic reader.
    In your opinion...

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: nothing but

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    (Curme's Grammar of the English Language)
    (3) His book is truly a "must" (indispensable) for anyone who wants to really understand the language.
    Sorry, Parser, but I have to say that this is bad advice for anybody learning English in 2011. The book was written 80 years ago, and it is just not relevant to the language of today.

    I have my own copy (one of many grammars I possess), and I have found it fascinating. But then I find my Arnauld A & Lancelot C (1660) Grammaire générale et raisonnée, Dionysius Thrax (c 140-100 BCE) The Art of Grammar, translated by Thomas Davidson (1874), Cooper, C (1685) Grammatica Linguĉ Anglicanĉ and all the others fascinating. That is because I am interested in the the study of grammar.

    Most of the people using our forum are interested in learning about the language as it is used today, and Curme is just too outdated to be of real help. Frankly, even Quirk et al's Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1985) is showing its age.

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    #9

    Re: nothing but

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) Learners who come to "usingenglish.com" post questions in "Ask a Teacher"

    because they want informed answers from teachers. The teachers in this thread

    have given their answers.

    (2) Non-teachers (such as I) are allowed to make comments so long as we preface

    our remarks with the disclaimer: NOT A TEACHER.

    (3) Those learners who study Dr. Curme's book will have the final word as to whether

    the advice of this non-teacher was correct or wrong.

  5. freezeframe's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: nothing but

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) Learners who come to "usingenglish.com" post questions in "Ask a Teacher"

    because they want informed answers from teachers. The teachers in this thread

    have given their answers.

    (2) Non-teachers (such as I) are allowed to make comments so long as we preface

    our remarks with the disclaimer: NOT A TEACHER.

    (3) Those learners who study Dr. Curme's book will have the final word as to whether

    the advice of this non-teacher was correct or wrong.
    I must agree with fivejedjon. If you wish to say that you find the book "indispensable" you should add that this is in your opinion and that they need not bother if they have no interest in the historical development of English grammar.

    People with enough knowledge of English and/or experience in studying languages might be able to tell how useful different resources are to them. People with little knowledge can be easily misled. They might very well assume that you as a native speaker, even if not a teacher, are giving them advice that is relevant to their particular needs. They cannot have the final word if they don't know what is relevant and what isn't. Not telling them the whole story is simply ethically wrong. I assume that most people coming here aren't studying English for fun but they have very pragmatic goals of work, school, etc.

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