As a conjunction
But, as a conjunction, is used to join contrasting ideas.
- Their front door was open, but nobody was at home.
- The rope was thin but it was strong.
- He is hardworking, but not clever.
As a preposition
- They are all wrong but me! (= --- except me.)
- All but you loved me for money. (= All except you loved me for money.)
- Everybody came but John. (= Everybody came except John.)
The expression but for is used to express the idea of if something had not existed/happened.
- We should have enjoyed the journey but for the rain.
- He would have helped us but for having no money himself. (---except that he had no money.)
After but we usually use object pronouns. Subject pronouns are also possible in a formal style.
- Nobody but him would do a thing like that. (More formal: Nobody but he ---)
Cannot but + infinitive
Cannot but + infinitive or cannot help but + infinitive is often used with the meaning of canít help -ing.
- I cannot but admire your courage (= I cannot help admiring your courage.)
But meaning only
But, as an adverb, can mean only. This is very unusual in modern English.
- We can but try. (= We can only try.)
- He is but a boy. (= He is only a boy.)
Back and Again
Bath and bathe
Beat and win
Because of, due to, owing to and on account of
Before and in front of
Begin and Start
Belong to, belong on and belong in
Below and under
Between and among
Between and during
Between and from
Big, large and great
Born and borne
Bring and take
But, though, in spite of, despite
By and with