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
- He was called, but he did not answer.
b. used to indicate the impossibility of anything other than what is being stated
- One cannot but sympathize with the old man.
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.
- She teaches nothing but ballet all day long.
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
- He is but a child.
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
- I told you, no buts.