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I have found a sentence:

He returned several times to India briefly, but only returned permanently early in 1915.

I believe this sentence does not contain any shift. We can say that

He returned several times to India briefly, and only returned permanently early in 1915.

I do not which know one is correct and why.

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First, you appear to believe that "shift" means something specific about a sentence, so that "non-shift" sentences can be distinguished. This is not correct. "Shift" is not a technical term, just a vague impression. Second, the difference in expectation is signalled by but and determined by the context; it is not signalled by the sentence itself. Logically, there is no difference between and and but. It is up to the listener to determine precisely which presupposition is being contrasted with which here. –  John Lawler Dec 1 '13 at 16:33

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"But" is used here to contrast the permanence of his return in 1945 with the temporary nature of visits up til then. Grammatically it's fine.

You could use a version with "and", though to me, the "and only" in this sentence sounds a little odd. If you wanted to replace "but", I would either use:

  • He returned several times to India briefly, and returned permanently early in 1915. OR
  • He returned several times to India briefly, only returning permanently early in 1915.
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Yes, OP's answer with 'and' would work where someone has suggested say "I know Heathcote first went to India in 1900: I thought he stayed there until 1918?" _ "No, he was in England most of that time. He returned . . ." –  Edwin Ashworth Dec 1 '13 at 16:28

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