Word 'but' as 'except'

In the English language, some words can function as various parts of speech.

One example is the word 'but'. Most English learners have been probably taught that 'but' is a conjunction which connects words, sentences, phrases or clauses like in the sentence: "She is happy but he is sad."

Other than being a conjunction, the word 'but' can also carry out the task of a preposition and in this case, 'but' has the same meaning as 'except'.

In this example: "There is nobody in the house but my mother.", the speaker says that everybody in their has has gone out except for their mother. 'But' as a preposition is followed by a noun or an object pronoun just like all the other prepositions we know. Very often, we encounter sentences such as: "I can't help but eat chocolate." and "I'm too lazy to do anything but (to)sleep." The word 'but' is followed by the words do and sleep which are both verbs.

Take note however, that these verbs do not function as verbs but as nouns in these sentences. And as such, these verbs are called 'verbals'.

There are three kinds of verbals: gerunds, infinitives, and participles. 'To' in an infinitive is omitted when used after the preposition but.
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