Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

The use of this conjunction isn’t recommended… and here’s why! [Wednesday: Write with the Pen of the Masters]

February 6, 2024

The word “but” is a conjunction used to introduce a phrase or clause that contrasts with what has been mentioned. 

Said in another way, “but” is used to show a contrast between two ideas. 

If not used in that manner, the word can also be used to state an exception.

Due to its effectiveness in stating contrasting ideas, “but” has seen widespread use in both formal and informal writing. 

However, did you know that the use of this conjunction is actually discouraged in some style guides?

In the 2014 edition of Bloomberg’s “The Bloomberg Way: A Guide for Reporters and Editors” the use of “but” was discouraged because: 

“Clauses containing but, although, despite or however often confuse more than they clarify because the words connect dissimilar ideas in a single sentence and take readers into two different directions.”

The news organization’s style guide also stated that “but” should only be used “when the intent is to signal an about-face.”

Since “but” has the potential to confuse the reader, its usage can also imply a negative tone.

Take a look at these 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 the intent is to provide good feedback. Despite this goal, those statements can be easily misconstrued as negative statements because of the use of “but.”

We’re not saying that using the conjunction should be avoided since there are times when it’s necessary to do so… we just want to emphasize that “but” can cause confusion among readers.

With that in mind, there are other ways of expressing, contrast, exception, or an about-face without using the conjunction:

  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. Knowing when to use and avoid this conjunction makes a big difference in your statements and write-ups.

These days, miscommunication is possible in the most minor of gestures or statements, so make sure to choose your words carefully!

Now that you know more about “but” and its use, apply the insights you learned from this article to your future write-ups or copies!

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: 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 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 avail of your service.

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

Every Wednesday, 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 find this week’s insights interesting and helpful.

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


Kyle Yu
Head of Special Projects
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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