What Part of Speech is “BUT”

In the English language, the word “but” is also used for multiple purposes. It can serve as a conjunction, a preposition, an adverb, or a noun in sentences.

  1. Conjunction

This word is commonly categorized under conjunctions because it can connect two clauses together and form a single sentence. In the sample sentence below:

She stumbled but didn’t fall.

The word “but” links together the clauses “she stumbled” and “didn’t fall,” and is therefore considered as a conjunction.


a. used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned

  • Example:
  • He was called, but he did not answer.

b. used to indicate the impossibility of anything other than what is being stated

  • Example:
  • One cannot but sympathize with the old man.


      2.    Preposition

Sometimes, the word “but” is classified as a preposition that means “except.” It is commonly used after the words all, any, no, every, none, nothing, etc. In the sample sentence below:

This is nothing but an insult.

The word “but’ is considered as a preposition that means “other than.”


a. except; apart from; other than.

  • Example:
  • She teaches nothing but ballet all day long.


      3.    Adverb

In some cases, the word “but” can be used as an adverb that means “merely,” and can modify a verb or an adjective. For instance, in the sample sentence below:

She is but a shadow of her old self.

The word “but” is an adverb that can also mean “nothing but” or “only.”


a. no more than; only

  • Example:
  • He is but a child.


     4.    Noun

Other times, this word is also categorized as a noun that refers to an argument against something. Take for example, the sentence below:

There are no buts when it comes to regulations.

In this sentence, the word “but” is used as a noun that also means “objection.”


a. a reason someone gives for not doing or agreeing with something

  • Example:
  • I told you, no buts.


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