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In the blank below:

Everyone likes you but _____.

Should I use "her" or "she"? I think both of them are okay. If "her" is used, I'll perceive the sentence as "Everyone likes you, but everyone does not like her"; using "she", I'll perceive the sentence as "Everyone likes you, but she does not like you." Please tell me which one is correct, or if neither of them are correct.

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2 Answers 2

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"But" functions as both a conjunction and a preposition. If you look at "but" as a conjunction, it leads to that other sentence -- "she does not like you".

But if you look at "but" as a preposition, it means "except for". https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/but If "except for" were substituted for "but", the preposition would take an object, in the accusative case. One of the examples given for this use by the Merriam-Webster dictionary at the link I cited is "no one there but me", where "me" is the proper case for a prepositional object.

For the sentence cited in the question, the equivalent correct pronoun would be "her".

Since so many native English speakers would use "her" in this instance, it's probable that this is the way they hear the sentence, and just naturally treat the word "but" as a preposition. This makes "her" not just commonly used, but also arguably correct.

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    Please check for duplicates before answering. A quick search for << but he >> shows that this has been dealt with before. Apr 22, 2020 at 11:51
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I think this is another case of and when used as conjunction linking two nominative pronouns, as has been discussed here.

In formal writing, she should be used. However, her is more common in daily speech and there is nothing wrong with saying: "Everyone likes you but her."

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    Honestly, I wouldn't use it in formal writing either. First off it looks weird, and secondly, if I were being formal I wouldn't structure a sentence with "understood" clauses and words (like the "she" formulation relies on). Better to just rewrite the sentence so it isn't awkward.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 22, 2020 at 18:53
  • What evidence do you have that "she" should be used in formal writing? Apr 22, 2020 at 23:05

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