Synonyms for But Every English Writer Should Know and Use

Before writing the word “but” in your next sentence, consider choosing one of these synonyms for but. It will make your writing stronger to avoid this over-used word.

The word “but” is one of the most commonly used words in the English language. To make your writing more interesting, you should look for ways to remove over-used words and replace them with a different word from the thesaurus. Thankfully, “but” has many synonyms that you can easily use to replace the word.

To choose suitable synonyms for but, you need to know its use in the sentence and its meaning in that use. This list is broken down by speech and meaning, so you can quickly find the related words you need to make your writing more interesting. So, whether you are playing “word of the day,” looking for an answer to your favorite crossword puzzle, or simply want to avoid overusing any word, this list of synonyms will get you started.

Meaning and Etymology for But

Synonyms for but

But is one of the older words in the English language. As a conjunction, it first showed up for the first time before the 12th century. It has several meanings, including “except for the fact,” “if not,” and “on the contrary.” 

The word can be used as a conjunction, adverb, preposition, and pronoun. However, it is most commonly used as a conjunction. It will often combine two independent or dependent clauses that contrast one another to show that contrast in one sentence.

The word comes from the Old English word but, which is a preposition and conjunction that means except or outside. This could originate from the Old High German word buzan, which means without or except. 

Synonyms For But as a Conjunction

Synonyms for but
Usually, the ‘but’ conjunction connects two opposite independent clauses

According to the Merriam-Webster English dictionary, ‘but’ is often used as a conjunction meaning “except for the fact.” This implies that the following statement or clause contrasts with the preceding statement. Usually, the ‘but’ conjunction connects two opposite independent clauses, such as:

  • He wanted to go to the store, but his wife had left with the keys, so he couldn’t.

Some synonyms for this use include:

  • After all
  • All the same
  • Although
  • At any rate
  • At the same time
  • Be that as it may
  • Despite that
  • Even though
  • Even so
  • Even when
  • For all that
  • Howbeit
  • However
  • Instead
  • Just the same
  • Nevertheless
  • Nonetheless 
  • Notwithstanding
  • Regardless
  • Save for the fact
  • Still
  • Though
  • Yet

As a conjunction, it can also mean “on the other hand.” Here is an example:

  • The Celtics were favored to win the game, but the Bucks had the home-court advantage. 

Some synonyms for this meaning include:

  • As much as
  • Be that as it may
  • Contrarily
  • Conversely
  • Despite the fact that
  • Even though
  • Except for the fact that
  • Granted that
  • In contrast
  • In spite of the fact that 
  • On the contrary
  • Then again
  • Though
  • When
  • Whereas
  • While
  • Yet

The conjunction “but” can also mean “except for,” as in this example sentence:

  • She was dressed all in red, but her hat was blue.

Some synonyms include:

  • Besides the fact that
  • Except that
  • Excepting
  • However
  • If it were not for
  • Only
  • Though
  • Saving
  • Were it not for

Finally, the conjunction “but” can imply the meaning “suppose that.”

  • We will go to the game, but you must clean your room first. 

For this meaning, synonyms include:

  • Admitting
  • Allowing
  • Assuming
  • Contingent upon
  • Granted
  • Granting that
  • If
  • Imagine 
  • In case that
  • Let’s assume
  • Let’s say
  • On condition that
  • Presuming
  • Presupposing
  • Provided
  • Say
  • Suppose
  • That
  • What if
  • While

Synonyms for But as a Preposition

But can also be a preposition that starts a prepositional phrase, as in this example sentence:

  • Everyone but Sarah had a ticket.

In this example, “but Sarah” is a prepositional phrase. It means “in exception to” and has these synonyms:

  • Absent
  • Apart from
  • Aside from
  • Barring
  • Besides
  • Beyond
  • Disregarding
  • Except
  • Excluding
  • Exclusive of
  • Leaving out
  • Minus
  • Not counting
  • Not including
  • Omitting
  • Other than
  • Outside of
  • Ruling out
  • Sans
  • Save
  • Short of
  • Without

As a preposition, the word can also mean “in spite of,” as in this example sentence:

  • He was a great guy, but for his habit of spending too much money.

This use has these synonyms in English grammar:

  • After all
  • Against
  • Although
  • Apart from
  • Aside from
  • Careless of
  • Despite
  • Discounting
  • Even after
  • Even with
  • Excluding
  • For
  • Ignoring
  • In the face of
  • Irrespective of
  • Nonetheless
  • Not considering
  • Setting aside
  • Taking no notice of
  • Though
  • Yet
  • Whatever
  • Whatsoever
  • Without regard to

Synonyms for But as an Adverb

The dictionary definition of the word “but” includes use as an adverb meaning “to the exclusion of everything else.” Here is an example sentence:

  • Since that day, my thoughts have changed but a little.

Some synonyms for this use include:

  • Absolutely
  • All alone
  • At most
  • Barely
  • Completely
  • Entirely
  • Just
  • Merely
  • No more than
  • Purely
  • Only
  • Simply
  • Uniquely
  • Utterly
  • Wholly

It can also mean “in spite of what happened before,” and this example sentence shows that use:

  • He was happy with his role in the company, but for the change to his income.

This meaning has several synonyms:

  • After all
  • All the same
  • Anyway
  • At any rate
  • At the same time
  • Be that as it may
  • Despite that
  • Even so
  • For all that
  • Having said that
  • However
  • In any event
  • In spite of that
  • Just the same
  • Nevertheless
  • Nonetheless
  • On the flip side
  • Still
  • That being said
  • Though
  • Whatever happens
  • Yet

How to Use This Word List

While you can see the use of a list of words like this in games like Scrabble or a crossword puzzle, this list of synonyms should also impact your writing.

In American English, “but” gets used far too often. So the next time you’re tempted to write this short and sweet word, consider how you are using it. If an alternative would make sense, then choose one of these lesser-used alternatives. 

By varying what you say in your writing, you will make it more interesting and engaging. This starts with learning to swap out synonyms for words like “but.” 

Suggested Reading: If you want to keep improving your writing and remove overused words, why not read the following posts also:

Synonyms for Amazing

Synonyms for Important

A Final Word on Synonyms for But

‘But’ is one of the many words in the English language that gets often used but can easily have a synonym applied. Skilled writers will learn to use synonyms to replace many instances of “but” in their writing.

If you hope to strengthen your writing, take some time to learn the words or phrases that have similar meanings to “but.” 

When it makes sense to do so, swap out the word “but”  for a synonym. Your writing will be stronger, and your readers less likely to be bored if you do.

FAQs about Synonyms for But

What other words can I use instead of “but”?

There are many synonyms for the word “but.” Some that work well include:
Although
In spite of
Aside from
Except
Excluding
Other than
Saving
Just
Merely
Only
Purely
Simply

Why should I use synonyms for “but?”

The word but is a common word in the English language, and as with many common words, it loses some of its meaning because of how often people use it. Therefore, the best way to ensure your reader fully understands what you’re saying is to use a synonym in place of the word.

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Author

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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