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Guten Tag! If I were to ask you the German word for ‘but’ the first one to come into your mind would most likely be ‘aber’. This is indeed the German word for it, and probably the most common one. But have you ever seen the words jedoch, allerdings or nichtsdestotrotz in a sentence? These (and several more) are also words meaning but, or variations of it, in German. In this post I aim to show you all of the German but words, the subtle differences between them, and how they are used in a sentence.
The word aber is the closest to the English but and links two opposing thoughts together.
Ich mag sie, aber sie mag mich nicht.
I like her, but she doesn’t like me.
Er hat gute Noten, allerdings nicht in Biologie.
He has good grades, however not in biology.
Confusingly, allerdings has a second definition which is almost opposite in meaning. If someone makes a statement you agree with, you can express your agreement by simply saying ‘Allerdings’. English equivalents include ‘Indeed’, ‘I agree’ and ‘Of course’:
Das ist aber teuer.
That’s rather expensive. – Indeed!
Kommst du morgen mit?
Are you coming tomorrow? – Yes, of course!
Er versteht von allem etwas, ist jedoch nirgends Meister.
He is a jack of all trades, but a master of none.
And yet / despite that
Dieses Bild ist schön, und dennoch traurig.
This photo is pretty, and yet sad.
Nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding
This is a combination of the words nichtsdestoweniger (nonetheless) and trotzdem (see below).
Es war zu groß. Nichtsdestotrotz hat es meine Tochter gut gefallen.
It was too big. Nevertheless, my daughter liked it a lot.
Ich bin krank. Trotzdem gehe ich feiern.
I’m ill. Nevertheless, I’m going out celebrating.
Sondern is only used after a negative clause. Example:
Ich reise nicht nach England, sondern nach Deutschland.
I’m not travelling to England, but rather to Germany.
I hope this will help you to recognise a few different ways of saying ‘but’ in German. Next time you read or listen to some German, look out for any of these words. They will indicate to you when an opposing statement is coming, or an opinion is shifting from one to another, for example. This might be useful when reading German reviews, too!
As always, if you have any further questions, feel free to leave me a comment.
Bis bald! 🙂