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    #1

    but for

    Hi,

    http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionarie...t_1#but_1__157

    But for: if it were not for

    - He would have played but for a knee injury.

    I would like to ask whether 'but for' is an alternative to both 'if it had not been for ' and 'it it were not for' or just 'if it were not you'? For example:

    - But for you, I wouldn't beat him.
    - But for you, I wouldn't have beaten him.

    I think both are OK, although the dictionary gives the only alternative - if it were not for.

    Thanks.

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    #2

    Re: but for

    Quote Originally Posted by ademoglu View Post
    - But for you, I wouldn't beat him.
    - But for you, I wouldn't have beaten him.
    I am not a teacher.

    It is very unnatural to use 'but for' followed by a negative statement like this.

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    #3

    Re: but for

    Thanks for the answer. What about these ones:

    - But for you, I would beat him.
    - But for you, I would have beaten him.

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    #4

    Re: but for

    I am not a teacher.

    The second one would make sense if you didn't beat him and it was in some way due to the person you're speaking to.

    The first is not impossible, but can you be sure that you won't beat him?

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    #5

    Re: but for

    I got it. Thank you but could you please tell me why you said that ''It is very unnatural to use 'but for' followed by a negative statement like this''? Can't we use that structure in a negative sentence?

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    #6

    Re: but for

    I am not a teacher.

    It's just unnatural, (not necessarily logically impossible).

    The idea is that something would have happened, but for something else. It didn't happen because of something else.
    We don't tend to say something won't/wouldn't happen, but for something else.

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    #7

    Re: but for

    I have found this: http://forum.wordreference.com/threa...r-you.2160725/

    1. But for you I wouldn't be where I am now.
    2. But for her staggering determination we wouldn't have won the game.

    I really feel confused.

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    #8

    Re: but for

    I am not a teacher.


    A bit of confusion creeping in here. Sorry about that.


    But for you, I wouldn't beat him. This is not good, in my opinion. It seems to be saying that I would beat him (which is not a verifiable fact) if you weren't involved in some way.
    But for her staggering determination we wouldn't have won the game. This is OK. It means that we did win thanks to her staggering determination.

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    #9

    Re: but for

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


    Hello, Ademoglu:

    I am definitely not trying to answer your question.

    I found some information from my favorite scholar, George Curme, that really fascinated me. May I share it with you?

    1. Professor Curme says that instead of "were it not for" and "had it not been for," many people use "but for," "except for," save for," and -- in older English -- "only for."

    2, Professor Curme says that those expressions ("but for," etc.) are now considered compound prepositions.

    a. He tells us that actually, they are elliptical.

    i. "But for the thick trees the bitter wind would blow the house to pieces." = "But [it were] for the thick trees ...."

    3. Here are some of his examples:

    a. "We should have died but / except / save for him."

    b. "We should have died only / but for him."

    c. [an example from English written in the year 1811] "Only for my tea, I should have had the headache."



    Credit for this information goes to George Oliver Curme, A Grammar of the English Language (1931), Volume II, page 332.

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    #10

    Re: but for

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Credit for this information goes to George Oliver Curme, A Grammar of the English Language (1931), Volume II, page 332.
    Good for George. However, his views on a language spoken 84 years ago may not be very relevant to the language of today.

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