Difference Between But and However

Main Difference – But vs. However

But and However are two words that are used to show contrast or contradiction in a sentence. The main difference between But and However is that But mainly functions as a conjunction in a sentence while However functions as an adverb.

When to use “But”

But  generally functions as a conjunction. It is one of the seven coordination conjunctions in the English Language. But is always used to introduce a clause or a phrase that indicates contrast. Observe this function in the following examples.

I waited for him, but he didn’t come.

The teacher explained the theory to us, but we didn’t understand it.

The two boys got into a fight, but they forgot their fight afterwards.

The food is expensive but delicious.

I know you think it is the right way, but I don’t agree with you.

When But is used as a coordinating conjunction, a comma should be used after the first independent clause. However, if the two independent clauses are brief and balanced, a comma is not necessary.

In addition, it is argued by many grammarians that but cannot be used at the beginning of a sentence, since it is a coordinating conjunction. This rule is strictly followed in academic and formal writing. In such cases, words like However and Nevertheless can be used.

When But is used with a negative form, it indicates the impossibility of anything other than what is being said. For example,

They had no option but to listen to him.

One cannot but sympathize with their plight.

But is also used as a preposition to indicate an exception. In such instance, it gives the meaning of apart from, except, other than.

He was anything but polite to me.

I closed all but one window.

Apart from its function as a coordination and preposition, But also acts as an adverb and a noun.

But vs However

She started knitting a hat, but didn’t have time to finish it.

When to use ‘However’

However is an adverb that is used to introduce a statement that contradicts something that has been stated previously. The following sentences illustrate this function.

His parents were against this affair. However, he did not think he could live without her.

Jena lost her fortune; however she is still living in a mansion.

Her view, however, was totally contradictory to others’.

We all smiled at each other; however none of us were feeling happy.

However also indicates the meaning in whatever way, in whichever manner. For example, “I can’t agree with you, however I look at it.”

Difference Between But and However

They sold all the cakes. However, they didn’t get a big profit.

Difference Between But and However


But is mainly used as  coordination conjunction.

However is an adverb.


But is used in more conversational, informal context.

However is used in a more formal, academic context.

Beginning of a Sentence

But should not be used at the beginning of sentences, according to traditional grammar rules.

However can be used at the beginning of sentences.

Punctuation Marks

But is often preceded by a comma.(when used as a conjunction)

However is more often preceded by a period or a semicolon and followed by a comma.

Introducing a Sentence Part

But is used to introduce a phrase or a clause.

However is used to introduce a sentence.Difference between but and however-infogram

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