Such a simple word. There were a few subtle things about it that were shared the night that the instructor faulted me on its use. She then turned to another student to explain what it meant to use the word "but." She also asked him to come up with some alternative words that convey a more positive attitude. The word "however" was one that was offered. Other words offered were "also" and "yet." Thesaurus.com offers some additional alternatives. During that class night, poor "but" was left standing in the corner like a rejected distant cousin.
The problem with "but" was that it is a negative word, implies a negative exception. Yes, it has a dual function in our vocabulary. It is a preposition that allows one to transition from one thought to another. It's also a conjunction used for similar purposes. However, it is best used to transition from the positive to the negative. For example, "We had a wonderful trip but the car broke down so we didn't have time to do all the sightseeing that was planned." Dictionary.com explains this.
The "usage notes" regarding "but" are also very helpful. They deal with punctuation associated with the use of the word as a conjunction and when it is used as a prepositional beginning of a sentence.
No matter how it's used, consider the tone that your striving to achieve with your communication. It can be more positive if it weren't for all those "if"s and "but"s. It all part of the implied message.
- Commas before conjunctions (e.g., and, or, but)
- How to Begin a Sentence With 'And' or 'But'
- But vs. yet
- Coordinating Conjunctions
- But vs. Though, Grammar-Quizzes.com