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Grammatik auf Englisch - Das große „Aber“

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Aber, but, although, even though, however, despite and in spite of

The concept of but is standard in every language. The German aber is famous: the depth of meaning in this single word is perhaps unparalleled by any other language.

English is perhaps unique for the variety of words that capture shades of meaning of the word but: but, however, although, even though, despite, and in spite of are the most common. That lends the language a rich expressiveness, but can also lead to confusion. Which but is the right but?

But
The simplest word of contrast and the direct translation of aber, but expresses and stresses contradiction.
If you read our article Reine Formsache II last month, you’ll remember that a coordinating conjunction joins two independent clauses. A comma must always precede a coordinating conjunction. If you wish to express a contradiction, but is always a fitting coordinating conjunction to use:

I tried to get my printer to print all day, but I failed.
I’m sure I’d make millions in the futures market, but I don’t have enough start capital to open a trading account.


Before we move on, we’d like you to examine the above examples carefully to identify the independent clauses. Play with them by removing but and separating the clauses using a full stop. Then put them back together again.
Now take a look at these two short, seemingly contradictory sentences:

Martin is old. Martin is still quite quick.

You can put such contradictory sentences together using a coordinating conjunction. But is the most natural choice:

Martin is old, but he is still quite quick.

We also mentioned in our grammar article last month that English isn’t fond of repetition. It sounds inelegant. If you splice together two sentences with a similar subject and verb, you can delete the second occurrence of them:

Martin is old but still quite quick.

But can also be used as a preposition having the meaning except. The construction feels similar to the dependent clause above, but if you look closely, you’ll see that the feeling of contrast is not there:

Shelley ate everything but meat.
All but two problems have been solved.


Although
Although, which is used in the same way as obwohl, is a dependent marker word ( see last month’s article Reine Formsache II ). That means it is not preceded by a comma. The major difference is that although is the correct word to use when the two clauses in the sentence are not contradictory, when both clauses are positive, or when the contradiction is not to be stressed. Although conveys a feeling of being unexpected, unusual, or surprising.

We usually speak English in the office, although we sometimes do slip back into Danish.
Although we worked hard through the weekend, we still failed to meet the deadline.
Although works like but in shortened sentences as well:
Martin is still quick although he is old.


Note the comma after the dependent clause when it comes first:

Although he is old, Martin is still quick.
Although is always followed by a noun and a verb.

Even though
Even though is a variation of although that also functions as a dependent marker word. The difference is that it has a stronger feeling of exception and contradiction and has the feeling of selbst wenn. Compare:

Although Tim is now a millionaire, he still goes to bowling club Tuesday nights with his school friends.
Even though Tim is now a millionaire, he still goes to bowling club Tuesday nights with his school friends.


Though is a shorter form of even though that has a stronger feeling of exception than although but less than even though:

Though Tim is now a millionaire, he still goes to bowling club Tuesday nights with his school friends.

Despite and in spite of
Despite is the correct way to translate trotz. It is followed either by a noun phrase or with a phrase containing the –ing form of a verb:

Despite the rain, Mary decided to go for a walk.
Despite being saddened by the news, Daniel went to the party.
Sharon was chosen as the new HR manager despite having been the least-favoured candidate.


In spite of has the same meaning as despite, but is stronger:

In spite of the rain, Mary decided to go for a walk.


However
Unlike but, however is an adverb. It is not used to join two independent clauses, but rather to introduce a second sentence:

I don’t want to go to work today because I feel ill. However, I’m willing to work from home.

At the beginning of a sentence, it has the feeling of nevertheless. You can also put it at the end to convey a feeling of exception:

I’m willing to work from home, however.

Putting it in the middle puts stress on the exception:

I am, however, willing to work from home.

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Aber, but, although, even though, however, despite and in spite of

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