I've heard in many places, educated people saying "but nevertheless...". I think both but and nevertheless have the play the same role. Is their combination, as to emphasize that what follows is opposes to the previous statement(s), allowed? Is it considered redundant or uneducated?
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It isn’t redundant, not least because but is a conjunction and nevertheless is an adverb. The OED has around 40 citations for but nevertheless, including this, for example, from the poet Stephen Spender:
But signals a contrast, while nevertheless tells us that what is to come is said in spite of Whitman’s work being vague and formless. But on its own would not have achieved this effect. The OED editors themselves use the two words in the same way one of their definitions:
I think the purpose is that it gives the sentence a different flow than nevertheless alone.
Nevertheless is a different kind of opposition than generic but - it emphasizes independence, "not being affected". So, the choice between but and nevertheless gives a somewhat different impression, conveys a different message.
Meanwhile, nevertheless is a word to usually appear at the beginning of a sentence. Normally, you'll see:
This is not entirely the same as
Now if you want to retain the first meaning, while obtaining the uninterrupted flow of the second example, you'll use both:
The snarky, captious side of me deplores this; the humane and tolerant side fastens on your statement that you've heard it.
Speech is constructed on the fly, and is often (perhaps usually) tentative. People say something, immediately look to qualify it, and throw in a conjunction, "and" or "but" or whatever, to signal that there's more to come, then say what they mean when they've collected their thoughts. If nevertheless turns out to be the word that provides the exact force they want to express, they can't go back and erase the "but".
So when you hear it, ignore it. But if you see it in writing, correct it; and I for one won't object if you characterize it in snarky and captious terms.
protected by RegDwigнt♦ Nov 30 '12 at 11:55
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