a beautiful day <and / but> I can't see it

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sisuer, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. sisuer Member

    China
    Chinese
    Hello everyone,

    I saw a short film the other day about a blind man asking for help on the street. He put a sheet of cardboard in front of him which read 'I'm blind. Please help'. And one day a lady walked past and noticed the cardboard. She changed the words on the cardboard into 'It's a beautiful day and I can't see it', which successfully helped the blind man gain much more help. While the film tries to tell people that you can change your world by changing your words, I keep thinking about the use of 'and' in the sentence 'It's a beautiful day AND I can't see it'. Would it make much difference if I say 'It's a beautiful day BUT I can't see it'?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    No, you wouldn't change the meaning.
     
  3. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    It seems you are looking for an emotional reaction to the words rather than a grammatical analysis. So here's my personal reaction: To my ear the "and" in the sentence is slightly different, putting emphasis on second part and highlighting the emotion of it.

    For example:

    There's a John Lennon concert, but I can't go. Tells the listener that 1. There is a John Lennon conference, which is important in itself and perhaps the listener would like to go. 2. That the speaker can't attend. This may or may not be complaining. The speaker may simply be telling the listener that he can't go as a useful piece of information.

    There's a John Lennon concert and I can't go. This puts emphasis on the fact that the speaker can't go. It's clearly complaining. The sentence immediately makes me think that the person is a big fan of John Lennon and that he thinks it's terrible that he's not able to go.

    Either formulation, and or but, could have been used on the man's sign, but I personally prefer the second as it evokes more emotion in me and puts more emphasis on the important second part. Grammatically, the "and" simply links the two things without making a formal contrast; for this reason, in formal written English, the "but" would be preferable.
     
  4. mythdixit Member

    New Delhi, India
    India - Hindi
    'It's a beautiful day and I can't see it'

    The effect of 'and' here is the same as that of 'but', and this becomes more clear if you read the sentence as... '

    It's a beautiful day and (the irony is that) I can't see it' (Obviously, it's left for us to understand, which is why the sentence isn't worded that way.)


    But remember that's just me. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  5. sisuer Member

    China
    Chinese
    Many thanks!
    So it's interesting that the 'but', though makes a formal contrast, is used only for fact-stating here, and the 'and', though simply links the facts together, carries an emotional tone.
     

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