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I frequently write in online forums, mainly with regard to mental health materials and concepts.

I struggle with grammatical correctness and the word but gets inserted throughout a lot of my paragraphs, often repeated within a few lines. Sometimes I use the word yet instead, but (there's that word again) unthinkingly revert back to but.

The word, in the context of the writing, feels juvenile and redundant. So far, I have used yet and though but haven't found any other words to use and even these begin to sound tiresome.

What else is there?

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closed as general reference by tenfour, tchrist, RegDwigнt Aug 17 '12 at 13:19

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I wouldn't worry much about frequent use of a short, common word like "but". Unless you're using it three times in each sentence, every sentence, people are unlikely to notice. Repeated use of less common words can be jarring. Like if you used the word "heretofore" six times in one paragraph, I think readers would find it distracting. But words like "the", "is", "but", etc? Not likely to be noticed, much less a problem. – Jay Aug 17 '12 at 14:10


Part of Speech: conjuction [sic], preposition
Definition: indicating contrast
Synonyms: although, however, nevertheless, on the other hand, still, though, yet

I'm sure there are more...

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Well, while I'm trying to figure out and navigate how to correctly use this forum, I'm genuinely stumped by my question being "closed" and referenced as being too basic. I find that rather dismissive. Thanks to those who did try to answer the question, much appreciation. – USTI Aug 17 '12 at 13:32

I wouldn't worry too much about your repetition of but. It's common when writing to find your attention being drawn to surface features of your composition such as repetition of words. But your readers are most likely reading you for your meaning, not your choice of words, so the repetition of short functional words like but will go unnoticed.

You can certainly use a thesaurus to find alternatives, but this attempted remedy can end up being more noticeable than the original disease. The overuse of synonyms to avoid repetition was criticized by Henry Fowler under the heading "elegant variation":

It is the second-rate writers, those intent rather on expressing themselves prettily than on conveying their meaning clearly, & still more those whose notions of style are based on a few misleading rules of thumb, that are chiefly open to the allurements of elegant variation.... The fatal influence ... is the advice given to young writers never to use the same word twice in a sentence—or within 20 lines or other limit.

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Wow, thank you, Andrew and Gareth. Gareth, you know how to validate a person...it's nice to think perhaps I'm not such a 'bore' afterall. Andrew, yes, I've used all of those exchanges as well and putting it into perspective, I think maybe I'm looking more with a critical eye because the subject matter I write about is in a sense, critically observed in its' field - mental health. You guys are great, thank you once again! – USTI Aug 17 '12 at 13:36

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