Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

The use of this conjunction is not recommended… BUT why? [Every Tuesday “Write with the Pen of the Masters”]

June 16, 2020

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Anthony Robbins

Communication is important in a lot of aspects of our lives.

It’s one of the keys to having good relationships with others.

Communication is also very crucial to build a long-lasting and successful career

…in whatever field we’re in.

Miscommunication is possible in the smallest of tasks and gestures too.

It could be your tone in an email.

It could be your reply to a chat message or SMS.

One simple word could alter what you mean or want to really say.

The word “BUT.”

But /bət/

– used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been   mentioned.
Source: Google.com

Do you notice that using this word can sometimes imply a negative tone?

It can heavily emphasize a contradiction.

We’ve been used to saying and using “but” in our writing.

What’s wrong with that?

Nothing. You just need to be careful with how you use it.

Ask yourself, “does it sound right?”

For starters, read this sentence out loud:

“You did a great job on this write-up, John, but I believe we have to try a different approach to this.”

Even if you use a soft tone to say this, the moment John hears the word “but”, he’ll feel a bit dismayed despite the positive statement that goes before it.

Here are other examples:

  • “It’s great talking to you, but…”
  • “These cupcakes taste good, but…”
  • “I like your new hairstyle, but…”

In each example, it’s presumed that you intend to give good feedback. Then, you use the word “but” that outweighs the previous message that you stated.

Those statements don’t sound much like compliments do they?

Imagine being on the receiving end of these “compliments.”

Bloomberg, a major global provider of 24-hour financial news and information, has a restrictive style manual on communication called The Bloomberg Way that banned the use of “but.”

“…but. Avoid this. Clauses containing the word confuse more than they clarify. They force readers to deal with conflicting ideas in the same sentence, and interrupt the flow of the story. For the same reason, don’t use despite or however…”

The manual also stated that the rule is necessary when it comes to reporting.

“Guiding journalists not to say two conflicting things in the same sentence when reporting (THIS, but THAT) is part of the bigger issue of objectivity and accountability, a point worth making.”

It’s easier said than done.

It’s hard to avoid using “BUT” since there are times when it’s necessary to do so.

Here are alternative ways to try to avoid confusion and miscommunication in your statements.

  1. Try saying/writing a statement that could be deemed negative BEFORE the word “but.”
  • “You’re shy at first but it’s great talking to you.”
  • “These cupcakes are too sweet for my liking but these taste good!”
  • “Your hair is too short but I like it.”
  1. If you want to use a word with a similar effect without using the word “but,” try:
  • “while”
  • “although”
  • “instead”
  • “meanwhile”
  • “whereas”
  1. You can simply replace “but” with the word “and” when applicable.
  • You’re blunt, and I appreciate it.”
  • “These cupcakes are so sweet and taste so good.”
  • “Your hair is short and I like it.”

It all comes down to understanding the effect of the word “BUT” in your statements.

Details like this one can make a big difference.

Choose your words carefully and avoid saying two conflicting statements in the same sentence when necessary.

Now that you’re more aware, try to apply this tip on your future write-ups!

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Write with the Pen of the Masters”

Who doesn’t find content writing to be a skill that requires a lot of practice and effort?

In fact, many people may even find copywriting very intimidating.

However, you can be a good writer as long as you have the right tools. You won’t always get things right the first time, but with enough time and practice, you’ll get the hang of it!

When you write a copy for any brand or for your company, your aim is to make an impact and…

…to get people to remember.

Getting people to remember means getting consumers to buy your product or to avail of your service.

And when you get your content to deliver the results you want, THAT is a great copy!

Every Tuesday, we publish content based on tips and insights from the masters of content writing, copywriting, and storytelling.

Become more familiar with ways to write great copy that helps you gain ROI from your efforts, drive profitability, and achieve your business goals.

Learn time-tested tactics that better capture the attention of your target audience, and maximize the benefits of great copywriting.

Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Write with the Pen of the Masters!”


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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