Usage of 'but' at the end of the sentence

Adam Cruge

Banned
India & Bengali
One of the uses of 'but' is its occurrence as a qualifying adverb at the end of the sentence...For example:
1.That was a lovely cat, but.(=that was a truly lovely cat.)
2.'She's lovely'.'Isn't she but', said Jimmy.
3.'I like your cafe', I said truthfully, for something to say. 'I am not staying but'. she said.

I want some explanation about the use of 'but' in this way and the meaning of 'but' in these case...
 
  • lisa687

    New Member
    English-USA
    I would never use "but" at the end of a formal sentece. It's a coordinatung conjunction, so it's always meant to connect two thoughts.
     

    lisa687

    New Member
    English-USA
    I'm curious what the publication year of that book is.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a native English speaker who would ever say any of those three sentences or use "but" in that way. It's just not common usage.

    If I saw that in any of the documents I was editing for work, I would remove it and recast the sentence.
     

    Adam Cruge

    Banned
    India & Bengali
    But the book says it is somewhat natural in Australian English, Irish English and in some parts of South Africa, or may be in other part of the English speaking nations...
     

    lisa687

    New Member
    English-USA
    Oh, I'm sorry. I should have clarified my post by saying that you'd be hard-pressed to find a native American English speaking-person say this. I can't speak for Austrailian or Irish English. Their usage could certainly be different.
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    I will hold off then, as I am neither from Australia, Ireland, nor South Africa..
    However, I have heard a lot of English from the above places, but never "but" at the end of a sentence.
     

    xopher.tm

    Member
    English, US
    Informally (and usually spoken) one might find "but" tacked on at the end of a sentence implying that there is more being unsaid - and that it is rather opposite of what is already said. Sort of a verbal elipsis.

    "That was a lovely cat, but .... (I am horribly allergic and shall now go blow my nose for the next hour.)"
     

    BellaDancer

    Senior Member
    One of the uses of 'but' is its occurrence as a qualifying adverb at the end of the sentence...For example:
    1.That was a lovely cat, but.(=that was a truly lovely cat.)
    2.'She's lovely'.'Isn't she but', said Jimmy.
    3.'I like your cafe', I said truthfully, for something to say. 'I am not staying but'. she said.

    I want some explanation about the use of 'but' in this way and the meaning of 'but' in these case...

    In the first sentence, even in the New World, the "but" is a qualification -- the can was lovely, but had some unlovely characteristic(s) that the speaker doesn't want to enumerate. Or it's a qualification about the speaker's feelings.

    That was a lovely cat, but she scratched up all the furniture.
    That was a lovely cat, but I'm glad she's gone.

    In your second example, in American, the "but" is for emphasis:

    - She's lovely!
    - Isn't she but! = Isn't she just! = Isn't she really lovely!
     

    Adam Cruge

    Banned
    India & Bengali
    Informally (and usually spoken) one might find "but" tacked on at the end of a sentence implying that there is more being unsaid - and that it is rather opposite of what is already said. Sort of a verbal elipsis.

    "That was a lovely cat, but .... (I am horribly allergic and shall now go blow my nose for the next hour.)"
    But the usage of 'but' in this case is clearly not like that...
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    Informally (and usually spoken) one might find "but" tacked on at the end of a sentence implying that there is more being unsaid - and that it is rather opposite of what is already said. Sort of a verbal elipsis.

    "That was a lovely cat, but .... (I am horribly allergic and shall now go blow my nose for the next hour.)"

    Yes, in that case it is used as a coordinating conjunction, and it's coordinating between the first clause and a clause that is intentionally left out. I understand that usage completely, but the one in the original post seems off.
     

    Adam Cruge

    Banned
    India & Bengali
    In the first sentence, even in the New World, the "but" is a qualification -- the can was lovely, but had some unlovely characteristic(s) that the speaker doesn't want to enumerate. Or it's a qualification about the speaker's feelings.

    That was a lovely cat, but she scratched up all the furniture.
    That was a lovely cat, but I'm glad she's gone.

    In your second example, in American, the "but" is for emphasis:

    - She's lovely!
    - Isn't she but! = Isn't she just! = Isn't she really lovely!
    I got your point, but how is this in the following sentence:

    'I like your cafe', I said truthfully, for something to say. 'I am not staying but'. she said.
     

    Driven

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    In American English, you can use the word "though" in all of your example sentences and it would sound so much better. Maybe in other English speaking countries they use the word "but" to mean "though" ??? I agree with Aidanriley that you would rarely if ever hear an American say "but" at the end of a sentence unless it was some teenager slang or something like that.
     

    Driven

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    I am way past teenager age so I had no idea. (Although, I have teenage daughters and they have never used that grammar either.) I think "I am not staying but" means, "I'm not staying though". Since I've never heard "but" at the end of sentences, it is only a guess.
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    The second two make sense as "though", but the first one?
    1.That was a lovely cat, but.(=that was a truly lovely cat.)
    That was a lovely cat, though. Though what?
     

    BellaDancer

    Senior Member
    The second two make sense as "though", but the first one?
    1.That was a lovely cat, but.(=that was a truly lovely cat.)
    That was a lovely cat, though. Though what?

    In the first example, with the cat, the meaning is a bit different. The but indicates that there is a qualification or condition that is left unspoken, as in "that was a lovely cat, but she scratched my furniture."
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Looks like the entire population of the British Isles is having a day off from the forum today ... except me;)
    Adam: I do hear but used in this way from time to time in the UK. I may even use it myself occasionally ... yes, I think I do.
    Which edition of Fowler did you see this in?
    I wouldn't call it a common usage by any means, but it happens.
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    Looks like the entire population of the British Isles is having a day off from the forum today ... except me;)
    Adam: I do hear but used in this way from time to time in the UK. I may even use it myself occasionally ... yes, I think I do.
    Which edition of Fowler did you see this in?
    I wouldn't call it a common usage by any means, but it happens.

    My salvation. So, what does it mean?
     

    Adam Cruge

    Banned
    India & Bengali
    Looks like the entire population of the British Isles is having a day off from the forum today ... except me;)
    Adam: I do hear but used in this way from time to time in the UK. I may even use it myself occasionally ... yes, I think I do.
    Which edition of Fowler did you see this in?
    I wouldn't call it a common usage by any means, but it happens.

    It is revised third edition by Burchfield...
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Well, it means pretty much what Adam wrote in his first post:
    1.That was a lovely cat, but.(=that was a truly lovely cat.)
    2.'She's lovely'.'Isn't she but', said Jimmy.
    3.'I like your cafe', I said truthfully, for something to say. 'I am not staying but', she said
    As someone said before, the buts in (1) and (2) are slightly different in that they emphasize what goes before rather than (erm....) 'contradicting' it. As someone also said the but in (3) is pretty much equivalent to though.

    EDIT: Ooh! here's an article about it (which I'm too lazy to read), but here's a quote from it:
    English sentence-final but (reported for Scottish, Australian, and New Zealand English in the sci.lang discussion in November 2006) apparently arose in several different ways, to judge from the uses reported for it. For Scottish, Sylvie Hancil (posting as "sylh") identified the following uses:

    contrastive meaning ('though')
    intensive meaning ('really')
    in most of the cases, a particle used for interactive reasons to show the other speaker he/she can speak.
     
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    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    If it is recorded speech, then take it as described in previous posts. If it is not recorded speech, then in it wrong, incorrect, unidiomatic, etc. in American English, even if the writer is trying to explain cricket test matches. Other Englishes may have other views on this.
     

    Aidanriley

    Senior Member
    English
    Kettle of fish!? Oh gosh, hahaha. I need a book of British idioms, I can't stop laughing. (That's a compliment, not a criticism)

    Her boyfriend is cute but.
    If someone said that here, I'd think they meant he has a cute butt.
     

    Moi_elise

    Member
    Spanish and Catalan. Spain
    The conclusion is that it exists ... but not in the USA.


    I just came across this usage of "but" in an American novel. It's a teenager from the East Coast who uses it. Looking for an explanation got me here, and I thought I should add to the thread that it does exist in the USA too. No idea as to how commonly, though:

    "Whoever did it really hates you", he said in a voice like he was very sorry to tell me the bad news, but.

    I don't know if it is for emphasis or it should be "though", though.
     

    Phil-Olly

    Senior Member
    Scotland, English
    I've just come across this thread and am surprised nobody pointed out that this usage is actually quite common in informal speech in Glasgow. You simply put the "but" at the end of the sentence instead of the beginning - not unlike the way "though" is used in other parts of the UK.

    So: "I'd like to go, but I can't afford it." becomes "I'd like to go. I can't afford it, but."

    And if it's okay with "though", why not with "but"?
     

    carohofmockel

    New Member
    German
    Hi,
    I am currently writing a thesis on 'but' as a final discourse particle, which I came across during my stay as an assistent teacher of German in Glasgow. I found this discussion while doing research, and I would love to use some of the examples given in this thread for my paper. Would it be ok for you if I quoted some of them?
    Thank you :)
    Carolin
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I recall hearing this type of construction in some old television series set in the North of England (either Tyneside or Yorkshire, as I recall). I don't hear it round here (Derby) and I've certainly never heard it anywhere to the south of here.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi,
    I am currently writing a thesis on 'but' as a final discourse particle, which I came across during my stay as an assistent teacher of German in Glasgow. I found this discussion while doing research, and I would love to use some of the examples given in this thread for my paper. Would it be ok for you if I quoted some of them?
    Thank you :)
    Carolin
    Hi Carolin - welcome to the forums!

    I think that in an academic paper you might be better off using examples from printed sources.... The article which ewie linked to in post 25 would be a useful source. You might also find some good examples searching in google books on "it isn't, but" or "(s)he isn't, but": I'll see if I can find some:).
     

    carohofmockel

    New Member
    German
    Hi Carolin - welcome to the forums!

    Thank you!

    And thank you for your concern ;) I AM using corpora (SCOTS) and dictionaries, and I already have loads of substantial material :) but some parts of the discussion would fit perfectly well for my introduction, since the thread shows that the use of "but" in final position is restricted to some varieties of English and causes problems for some speakers... I wouldn't include any names, of course!
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi,
    I am currently writing a thesis on 'but' as a final discourse particle, which I came across during my stay as an assistent teacher of German in Glasgow. I found this discussion while doing research, and I would love to use some of the examples given in this thread for my paper. Would it be ok for you if I quoted some of them?
    Thank you :)
    Carolin

    If it's here, you can quote it -- it was kind of you to ask. ;)
     

    snarryislife

    New Member
    English-United States-Middle Georgia
    I thought this was going to be a short thread. It turned out to be anything but.
    Brilliant.

    Hello Carolin! As a 17 year-old American teenager living in the United states, we find nothing incorrect about using but to end our sentences.
    But can be used to portray numerous emotions in our conversations, it's not really the word it's self, but what 'but' stands for in those situations.
     

    dukaine

    Senior Member
    English - American
    "But" is often used at the end of a sentence to say that something or someone is the antithesis of something else.

    Speaker #1: That girl is so mean!!
    Speaker #2: No, she's everything but! (she's completely opposite of mean)

    Speaker #1: That guy seems nice.
    Speaker #2: Are you kidding? He's anything but. (He's completely opposite of nice)

    In both cases, the adjective has been omitted, but it is understood.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    "But" is often used at the end of a sentence to say that something or someone is the antithesis of something else.
    Yes - but that is not the usage of "but" at issue in this thread - which is "but" at the end of a sentence meaning "though", "just" or "really":).
     

    Scott B

    New Member
    English - Australian
    Hi all, I know this is an old thread but as an English speaking Australian I think I can clear up a lot of the confusion over the usage of the word but at the end of a sentence.

    I did not realise my usage of the word but in this way caused confusion outside of Australia until I entered into my relationship with my wife who when we met did not speak English at all and I did not speak her language of Spanish.

    I would regularly use the word but at the end of a sentence and she would always answer with “but what?”

    In this she was making the same assumption that most of you are making in this thread which is that by putting but at the end of a sentence we are leaving a qualification or statement unsaid.

    This is not the case, we are simply repositioning the location of the word but from the beginning of the statement to the end of the statement without changing the meaning of the sentence.

    This is most easily recognisable in example 3.
    It is a lovely cafe, I’m not staying but.

    The standard English way of saying this sentence is...

    It is a lovely cafe, but I am not staying.

    Example 1 could be said to be either the use of the but in lieu of though or the reordering of the words also as in..

    But it is a lovely cat.

    And example 2 is the use of but instead of though.

    The movement of the word but to the end of a sentence is not to change the meaning (I.e. to turn it into an opposing statement as some suggest) it is just an Australian linguistic anomaly which is very common here.

    I hope this clears this up for anyone still interested in this thread

    Cheers
     

    RenaCrispin

    New Member
    American English
    Hello everyone, I’m reading this in 2022. I love reasoned discourse over English usage. I have no experience with hearing ‘but’ used at the end of a sentence but enough people have interpreted it to mean an emphasis on what preceded it, rather than a negation, it intrigues me. I wonder if my comment here might not be helpful:

    Might not it have something to do with how I voice it? In my imagination, I could say “this is a lovely cat, but” in more than one way. My tone of voice, emphasis, and how I say the word ‘but’ (stretch it out, curtly shorten it…) change its meaning!
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Might not it have something to do with how I voice it?
    Certainly. Spoken English depends a great deal on intonation, and both spoken and written English depends a great deal on context. The OP gives very little context, so each person replying on here has to guess at the context. Different people might imagine different situations and so come up with different meanings.

    For me, the obvious interpretation of (1) "That was a lovely cat, but" is that it was actually a horrible cat in every respect apart from its loveliness, using "but" at the end of a sentence to imply a stronger negative than the positive that has just been mentioned. However, the OP tells us that the meaning is that it was a truly lovely cat, which I cannot visualise at all.

    (2) is a use I recognise, using "but" to emphasise agreement:
    A: She's lovely.​
    B: Isn't she but.​
    This is clearly a regional usage but I would not like to say what region it was from. It sounds entirely natural to me, which suggests southern England, which is where I am from.

    (3) includes some context: 'I like your cafe', I said truthfully, for something to say. 'I am not staying but'. she said. However I cannot make sense of it at all. Are there two speakers? Does "She said" belong with what follows and not have anything to do with the two spoken lines? There is clearly a mistake, because the full stop after "but" is followed by "she" in lower case, but what the mistake is, I could not say. Neither:
    Me: I like your cafe.​
    She: I am not staying but.​
    nor
    Me: I like your cafe. I am not staying but.​
    fit into any pattern of speech or dialect that I am familiar with. The second could be interpreted as "but" meaning "nevertheless" or something like that, but it is not a use I recognise.
     
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