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  1. #1
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    the "but for" phrase

    Hi,

    I know that "but for" means something like "except for". "A Practical English Usage" by Thomson and Martinet gives a longer explanation: "if it were not for/if it hadn't been for"; they offer two examples, one being as follows: "My father pays my fees. But for that I wouldn't be here". I see the phrase is sometimes used in written English, but:

    • Is it a formal phrase?
    • Is it used in spoken or rather written language?
    • Is it used in particular situations? If yes, what kind of situations?
    • Is there anything else I should ask/know about this phrase?


    Thanks,
    nyggus

  2. #2
    jutfrank's Avatar
    jutfrank is offline VIP Member
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    Re: the "but for" phrase

    The example you give shows the use nice and clearly. The person is speaking quite casually, in informal English.

  3. #3
    Lynxear's Avatar
    Lynxear is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the "but for" phrase

    At least in Canadian English, this is not a common phrase.

    In common speech it sounds a bit high brow. A more common way of saying that sentence would be:

    If my father wasn't paying my fees, I wouldn't be here.

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