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Modern man is the child of technology, which is influencing and shaping the progress of all his affairs, But though we be the children of technology, we must be its masters and not its slaves.

The above is a quotation from Julius A. Statton's speech entitled "Science and the process of management" made in New York in 1963.

I have been taught that "though" and "but" cannot occur in the same sentence. But "though / although" and "yet" can occur in the same sentence.

I have seen sentences like the following:

  1. Though he worked hard, he failed in the exams

  2. Though he worked hard, yet he failed in the exams.

  3. He worked hard, but he failed in the exams.

In the given Quotation "though" and "but" occurs in the same clause side by side.

Since Julius A. Stratton was a native speaker I cannot question the grammaticality of his use but I would like to know whether the use is acceptable in modern English.

  • 2
    The gist of it is that you can't double a though with a but (or a yet or a however) if they are both referring to the same thing. Which, coincidentally, is why your sentence №2 is wrong. It can be "though he worked, he failed", and it can be "he worked, yet he failed", but not both at once, because the though and the yet point out the exact same contrast between the exact same two things. In your original sentence, however, the but refers to the sentence before it, and the though refers to a clause within it. They do not share the same referent. – RegDwigнt Aug 19 at 16:41
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    You were taught incorrectly. – Hot Licks Aug 19 at 16:42
  • @RegDwight I have found the sentence in Wren and Martin' s grammar book but I do not use it – successive suspension Aug 19 at 16:49
  • @Hot licks you can find the sentence 2 in Wren and Martin's grammar book. I do not use it though – successive suspension Aug 19 at 16:53
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    The fact that a grammar textbook gives a rule or says a given sentence is correct or incorrect should not convince you that this is the case. Most grammar textbooks are terrible sources of information; they tend to reprint what the authors (think they) learned as children. – John Lawler Aug 19 at 20:11
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The 'but' at the start of a sentence shows a contrast / surprising disjunct with a statement in a previous sentence / main clause. I'll invent a suitable situation.

[B] Though John is smaller than average, he excelled at basketball.

One can't insert a 'but' into this sentence as a standalone sentence.

But now with a previous sentence (or main clause, if one adds a comma or dash):

[A] Taller people have obvious advantages in some sports. [B] But though John is smaller than average, he excelled at basketball.

The 'rule' you've been given as an aid, like many, has its limitations.

  • All the examples given, and the only ones I can think of, where though and but appear in the same sentence but _ appears before _though. Would you say that a better rule for the OP to follow is "BUT should not follow THOUGH in the same sentence (except in cases like "Though we be but mortal" which just complicate matters for a student of English as a foreign language) – BoldBen Aug 20 at 8:00
  • @BoldBen ELU is aimed at linguists of a certain level. You are perhaps confusing the aims with those of ELL. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 20 at 13:45

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