But / But still

Stating contrast or contrary outcome

coffee with sugar
 

 

Contrast vs. Contrary Outcome

CONTRAST

We express contrast between two clauses (when the central idea of one clause is in opposition to the second clause) with connectives such as but, however, while, whereas

BUT / HOWEVER

He asked for another cup of coffee, but there was no more.  ¹(But there was no more.)

He asks for some and finds out there is no more.  

He asked for another cup of coffee. However, there was no more.

He asked for another cup of coffee; however, there was no more.  

However is more commonly used in writing.

CONTRARY OUTCOME

We express another kind of contrast contrary outcome (when the idea stated in one clause is opposite in expectation, opinion, or action to the second clause) with connectives but still, yet, though, although, even though.

BUT STILL / THOUGH

There was no more coffee, but still he asked for another cup.

He knows there is no more coffee and asks for more.  Why would he ask for more?

Though there was no more coffee, he asked for another cup.

He asked for another cup of coffee though there was no more.

though, even though, although – adverbs of concession

 

contrary (adj.) – opposite in nature, character or reasoning; illogical

contrast (n.) – a difference, an unlikeness in comparison with something else

in opposition – the action of opposing, resisting, or combating

¹But – beginning a sentence   indicates a stronger contrast

Also see But / though for implied meanings .

See Grammar Notes for grammar terms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connectors for Contrast

Position and Punctuation

 

 

 

While, Whereas, But

FIRST CLAUSE / BEGINNING

commaWe can place the connective while or whereas (not but) before the first clause that expresses contrast, with a comma separating the clauses.

CONTRAST CLAUSE STATEMENT CLAUSE

While I like sugar in my coffee,

Edward likes black coffee.

Whereas I like sugar in my coffee,

Edward likes black coffee.

*But I like sugar in my coffee,

Edward likes black coffee.

SECOND CLAUSE / BEGINNNING

commaOr we can place the connective while, whereas, or but before the second clause that expresses contrast, with a comma separating the clauses. 

STATEMENT CLAUSE CONTRAST CLAUSE

I like sugar in my coffee,

while Edward likes black coffee.

I like sugar in my coffee,

whereas Edward likes black coffee.

I like sugar in my coffee,

but Edward likes black coffee.

 

black coffee (expression) –coffee without sugar or milk

See FANBOYS coordinators  for "fronting" and "reversibility"

 

 

 

In contrast, In contrast to, However

SECOND CLAUSE / BEGINNING

periodWe can place the connective however or in contrast at the beginning of the contrasting clause. It is capitalized and separated with a comma.

CLAUSE CONNECTOR + CLAUSE

I like sugar in my coffee.

In contrast, Edward likes black coffee.

Edward likes black coffee.

In contrast, I like sugar in my coffee.

I like sugar in my coffee.

However,  Edward likes black coffee.

Edward likes black coffee.

 

However,  I like sugar in my coffee.

SECOND CLAUSE / BEGINNING

no commaOr we can place the connective in contrast to directly before the sentence element (noun phrase or gerund clause) that we want to contrast. Note the change in the wording below.

CLAUSE CONNECTOR + CLAUSE

I like sugar in my coffee
(subjects)

in contrast to Edward who likes black coffee.

I like sugar in my coffee

(objects)

in contrast to honey in my coffee.

I like sugar in my coffee

(prep phrase objects)

in contrast to my tea

I like drinking my tea slowly
(gerunds)

in contrast to gulping it down.

 

in contrast to (and not / but not) is used between two similar elements (i.e., nouns, gerunds, prep. phrases)  See "rather than" complements types.

 

 

 

On the one hand, On the other hand

FIRST CLAUSE / BEGINNING

We use the prepositional phrase on the one hand to introduce a sentence with an idea to which we will later add a contrast. (This expression is paired with "the other hand".)

INTRO PHRASE STATEMENT CLAUSE

On the one hand,

I like sugar in my coffee.

On the one hand,

Edward likes black coffee.

SECOND CLAUSE / BEGINNING

The prepositional phrase on the other hand begins the second sentence with the contrasting idea. A comma separates the initial prepositional phrase from the rest of the clause.

CONTRAST PHRASE CLAUSE

On the other hand,

Edward likes black coffee.

On the other hand,

I like sugar in my coffee.

 

Sometimes, a speaker will use one half of this expression, and expect the listener to understand the implication of the second part. "On the one hand, we have a lot of work to do."  Possible implication: "On the other hand, no one is doing it" 

Also see Linking Adverbs  and Comparisons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connectors for Concession/ Contrary Outcome

Conjunctions, Adverbs, and Prepositions

 

 

 

But still, yet, but…anyway

CONCESSION

After stating an opinion or belief, we can admit to something that does not logically fit within the statement—a concession. We express that we are giving in on a (one) point in our argument with but…still, yet, or but…anyway.

OPINION / BELIEF CONCESSION

He's vegetarian,

but still he eats eggs occasionally.

I mostly tell the truth,

yet sometimes I tell a white lie.

She doesn't believe in Santa Claus,

but she writes to him each December anyway.

CONTRARY OUTCOME

After stating a fact, we can add an unexpected, illogical result or effect. We express the surprising detail with but…still, yet, or but…anyway.

FACT / SITUATION CONTRARY OUTCOME

She broke three toes,

but still she went dancing.

He grew up in the U.S,

yet he doesn't speak English.

She was only sixteen,

but she won three gold medals anyway.

 

give way (verbal phrase) – yield, admit, concede, give in

concession (n.) –  a give way, or give in on a point or fact in an argument;   X is true, but maybe not this.)

illogical (adj.) – not logical; not following expected reasoning

See Grammar Notes for terminology.

 

 

 

Though, although, even though

FIRST CLAUSE / BEGINNING

commaWe can express contrary outcome by placing though, although, even though before the first clause and separating the second clause with a comma.

FACT / OPINION CONTRARY OUTCOME

Though I shouldn't eat sugar,

I eat a lot of foods with sugar in them.

Although I shouldn't eat sugar,

I do (eat sugar).

Even though I shouldn't eat sugar,

I put a little sugar in my tea.

SECOND CLAUSE / BEGINNING

no commaOr we can express contrary outcome by placing though, although, even though before the second clause (between the two clauses). No comma is used.

CONTRARY OUTCOME FACT / OPINION

I eat a lot of foods with sugar in them

though I shouldn't eat sugar.

I do eat sugar

although I shouldn't eat sugar.

I put a little sugar in my tea

even though I shouldn't eat sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

Contrary outcome with connective adverbs

FIRST CLAUSE / BEGINNING

Despite, regardless, or in spite of is placed before the statement of opinion or fact (before a noun phrase or gerund).

OPINION / BELIEF / ACTION CONTRARY OUTCOME

Despite being vegetarian,

he eats fish.

Regardless of her broken toe,

she went dancing.

 

In spite of saying they were too busy to go,

they went.

 

SECOND CLAUSE / BEGINNING

Even so or nevertheless is placed before the surprising result or effect.  A comma is placed after the connective.

OPINION / BELIEF / ACTION CONTRARY OUTCOME

He's vegetarian.

Even so,  he eats fish.

She broke her toe.

Nevertheless, she went back on stage and danced.  

They said they were too busy to go.

Nonetheless, they went. 

 

nevertheless – 1250–1300; Middle English; replacing natheles, notheles natheless

Also see:   Because/Though | Because of / Inspite of…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional Grammar and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

 

Traditional and Linguistic Descriptions

TRADITIONAL GRAMMAR LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION
CONTRASTIVE  

but
coordinating conjunctions
"Showing Direct Contrast" (Azar 16-4,19-7)

while, whereas
adverb clause "Showing Direct Contrast" (Azar 17-5, 19-7)

however, on the other hand
Transition "Showing Direct Contrast" (Azar 19-7)

while, whereas, but
adjunct of concession.contrast (whereas, while/whilst, when)  (Huddleston 8 §13.2);
discourse marker. balancing contrasting points (Swan 157.2) 
circustance adverbial.concessive.(Biber 844)

however
connective adverb (yet, however) (Huddleston 6 §6,15 §2.9)
contrastive.linking adverb. (Biber  2.3.4, 7.14.3, 10.4.3.1)
adverb (Swan 49.3)

in contrast, in contrast to, on the one hand, on the other hand
connective adjuncts. prepositional phrases (Huddleston 8 §19-20, 563) /
— linking adverbs.prepositional phrase. (Biber 10.4.3.1)
discourse markers. balancing contrasting points (Swan 157.2)

 

CONTRARY / CONCESSIVE  

but…anyway, but…still, yet…still–
Conjunctions
"Showing Contrast (Unexpected Result) (Azar 19-6)

though, even though, although–
Adverb clause
"Expressing Contrast" (Azar 17-4)

nevertheless, nonetheless, however…still
Transitions
"Showing Contrast (Unexpected Result)  (Azar 19-6)

despite, in spite of, despite the fact that, in spite of the fact that
Prepositions
"Showing Contrast (Unexpected Result)  (Azar 19-6) 

yet, but…still, but anyway
adjunct of concession.coordinator  (Huddleston 8 §13.2);
conjunction (Swan 49) ;
linking adverbs. –yet, so, neither (Biber 2.4.7);
coordinator/ subordinator –yet, so–  (Quirk 2.4.7.2)

though, even though, although
prepositions.concessive adjuncts  (Huddleston 8 §13.2);"
conjunctions (Swan 49.1) 
circumstance adverbial. concession.subordinator (Biber 10.2.8.9-11);
adverbial clause (Quirk 15.39-40) 

even so, nevertheless, nonetheless, despite, regardless of, in spite of
— prepositions.concessive adjuncts  (Huddleston 8 §13.2);
discourse markers. (Swan 157.2)

 

 Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Ray and Rena — personalities and habits

teens
 

Complete the sentence with a connector for contrast.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

1.


clueless (adj) – has no idea, thoughts on it
clue (n.) – A piece of information that helps someone figure something out.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.


sprain (v.) – to damage a joint in the body by twisting it

8.

9.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Ray and Rena as Students

 

 

 

Complete the sentence with a contrary or contrasting idea.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 11-15" button.

 

11.





12.





13.





14.





15.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Ray versus Rena — after school

store clerkhouse painter
 

 

Add punctuation to the connectors  (connectives).

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 16-22" button.

 

16.

17.

18.
.

19.

20.

21.

22.


outgoing (adj) – very social