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The German But Posted by on May 2, 2018 in Language

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 German But. Which one to use?

 

Aber
But, however
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.

Allerdings
However, but
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.
Allerdings!
That’s rather expensive. – Indeed!

Kommst du morgen mit?
Ja, allerdings!
Are you coming tomorrow? –
Yes, of course!

Jedoch
But, however
Er versteht von allem etwas, ist jedoch nirgends Meister.
He is a jack of all trades, but a master of none.

Dennoch
And yet / despite that
Dieses Bild ist schön, und dennoch traurig.
This photo is pretty,
and yet sad.

Nichtsdestotrotz
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.

Trotzdem
Despite, nevertheless
Ich bin krank. Trotzdem gehe ich feiern.
I’m ill. Nevertheless, I’m going out celebrating.

Sondern
But rather
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! 🙂

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About the Author:Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze. I'm half English and half German. I write here because I'm passionate about my languages and my roots. I also work as a translator & group fitness instructor.


Comments:

  1. Carrlos R. Barron:

    Danke Constanze fur the hilfe ,meine deutsh is nicht sher gut abe Ich immer learnt. Ich bin an alte mann 🙂 my erste sprachenis Spanien Ich bin aus Bolivien , aber ich whonne in der USA fur 50 jahr .

  2. KipPhoenix:

    “He has good grades, however not in biology.”

    This is not correct English grammar. “However” must only be used in a complete sentence, or at least in an independent clause.

    “He has good notes. His biology grade, however, does not reflect that.”

    “His grades are good; however, his interest in biology is lacking.”

    Usw.

    Correct would be: “He has good grades, except in biology.”

    • Constanze:

      @KipPhoenix Yes Kip, you are correct. I sometimes translate things a bit more literally than is normal, so learners can see exactly what word means what in the German sentence.


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