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BUT!
by Timothy Whitt
01/21/05
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But, a word that strikes fear in the hearts of the people who are on the receiving end of its use. Why, because the word but is usually used to let someone down easy or to set someone up for bad news.

Here is a typical sentence using the word but, “I would go out with you, but I have to wash my hair”.

If you analyze this sentence you will see that the good news comes first” I would go out with you”. This is where you feel like the world is yours and you are going to receive or get what you always wanted. Now comes the set up in the sentence the word “but”. Huh oh, your euphoria has just come to an end and you are starting to wonder what is going to come next. You’re standing there going “no, no, no not that word. I would take any word but that one”. Huh oh I used the word but, no, no, no. Well you get the picture.

After all from experience you know that only bad news comes after “but”. So there you are standing there sweating for what seems like an eternity between the good news and the word but. Then it happens you receive the bad news, “I Have to wash my hair”. Now you are left wondering if the other person has to wash their hair or are just letting you down easy.

Your mind is wandering and going through all kinds of scenarios over what the truth might be. You can picture the other person out on a date or just sitting at home saying to themselves, “thank you English language for words like but”.

Now don’t become self-righteous, because you know deep down you have used the word but to get yourself out of certain situations.

Here is a typical sentence you might have used once or twice in your lifetime “I would have fixed that broken water pipe, but I needed someplace to float my new model ship”. The good news is that you were going to fix the pipe the bad news is now the basement is so flooded that you can float your ship.

These are only a couple of examples of how the word but can be used in a sentence. Lest you get too leery and concentrate on the word but too much lets not forget but’s distant cousins, if only and try.

“If only I didn’t have to grease my car I would go our with you. If only the car didn’t squeak so much I’d be at that party right now. I will try to get to the next one.

Unless of course the car need an oil change or to be washed or _____________ fill in the blank.

Oh yeah lets not forget about the word maybe.

Please note that this is only one example of the use of the word but and it’s cousins your story may be different then the one described here, but the outcome is always the same. Think about it, but don’t take too long.


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Joyce Poet 21 Jan 2005
But... but... but, I have no excuse, do I? Hmm... very thought-provoking article. Reminds me of the scripture that says "let your yes be yes and your no be no."




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