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THEN adv

  1. Used after but to qualify or balance a preceding statement

Idiom: then again

https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=then

Wiktionary has an entry for but then again as an "Alternative form of then again"

I do not understand what grammatical information the entry is trying to convey: but then is not an idiom as then again is, but still the definition says "used after but".

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I would consider it so. Just because the phrase, “But then...” can be used as a stand alone statement following other declarative statements as a counterpoint to those statements. Usually, it is used as an abbreviated statement when the entire statement is implied. For example, “I thought he was smart. But, then...”

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  • Why are "then again" and "but then" dealt with differently in the entry? – GJC Jul 30 at 17:26
  • @GJC - it appears to be used as more of an example of its usage. Not as an exclusive definition. For example, the phrase used in the link you provided, “From another standpoint; on the other hand: I need a vacation. Then again, so do my coworkers.“ can be said as, “From another standpoint; on the other hand: I need a vacation. But then, so do my coworkers.“ – Dean F. Jul 30 at 17:36
  • Wiktionary has an entry for but then again as an "Alternative form of then again" – GJC Jul 30 at 17:45

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