1 conjunction strong /bVt/
1 in spite of something, or not as you would expect: The situation looked desperate but they didn't give up hope. | The car was very cheap but it's been extremely reliable.
2 used to add another statement to one that you have already made, to say that both things are true: These changes will cost quite a lot, but they will save us money in the long run. | an expensive but immensely useful book
3 used like however, to explain why something did not happen, why you did not do something etc: He would have won easily, but he fell and broke his leg. | I'd like to go but I'm too busy.
4 used after a negative to emphasize that it is the second part of the sentence that it is true: They own not one but three houses. | The purpose of the scheme is not to help the employers but to provide work for young people. | no choice/alternative etc but to...: We had no alternative but to fire him. | no question/doubt but that... (=used to say that you are sure that something is true): There's no doubt but that Evans is guilty.
5 but for without: But for these interruptions the meeting would have finished half an hour ago.
6 but then (again) spoken
a) used before a statement that makes what you have just said seem less true, useful, or valuable: We could ask John to help again, but then I don't want to bother him.
b) used before a statement that may seem surprising, to say that it is not really surprising: Apparently Dinah hasn't been to work all week, but then she always was unreliable wasn't she?
7 used to express strong feelings such as anger, surprise etc: But that's marvellous news!
8 you cannot but.../you could not but... formal used to say that you have to do something or cannot stop yourself from doing it: I could not but admire her.
9 used to emphasize a word or statement: It'll be a great party - everyone, but everyone, is coming.
10 used to change the subject of a conversation: But now to the main question.
11 (usually in negatives) literary used to emphasize that a statement includes every single person or thing: Not a day goes by but that I think of Geoff. (=I think of Geoff every day)
USAGE NOTE: BUT WORD CHOICE: but, however But is very frequent in spoken English, where it is often used at the beginning of a sentence: "I read it in a newspaper." "But newspapers aren't always right!" But is also used in writing, though not usually at the beginning of a sentence. However is used especially in more formal writing, often with commas before and after it in the middle of a sentence: This had been reported in a newspaper. One must remember, however, that newspapers are not always accurate. GRAMMAR But or however is never used in a main clause beside another clause with although: Although they're very busy, I think they enjoy it (NOT ... but/however I think they enjoy it). You can begin a clause with but although, or however although: I tried doing the accounts, but although I know some maths I found it very difficult (=and I know some maths but I still found it difficult). 2 preposition
1 apart from; except: What can we do but sit and wait? | I could come any day but Thursday. | nothing but (=used when talking about a bad quality or situation to emphasize how bad it is): This car's been nothing but trouble. | anything but (=used to say that a person or situation does not have a good quality): Those receptionists are anything but helpful.
2 the last but one/the next but two etc especially BrE the last or next thing or person except for one, two etc: Pauline and Derek live in the next house but one. (=they live two houses away from us)
3 adverb
1 especially literary only: You can but try.
2 AmE spoken used to emphasize what you are saying: Go there but fast! | They're rich, but I mean rich!
4 noun no buts (about it) spoken used to say that there is no doubt about something: No buts, you are going to school today!

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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