1

I don't like reading, but I like cooking.

I like cooking, but I don't like reading.

Can I use a positive sentence after "but"?

2

Yes, you can. But indicates something that contrasts with the first part of the sentence, or is unexpected after the first part of the sentence. That can be either a positive or negative clause, just like you used.

References:
- Conjunctions
- But

  • So the sentence "I don't like reading, but I like cooking." is perfectly correct? – user44430 Nov 8 '16 at 22:19
  • @user44430 - Yes, it's fine. – stangdon Nov 8 '16 at 22:43
  • Yes, because the first part of the sentence is in contrast to the second part. – Peter Nov 8 '16 at 22:43
  • @user44430 The contrast can also be between good and better: "I like cooking, but I prefer reading." – P. E. Dant Nov 9 '16 at 0:09
1

Incidentally, you can also use a "but + positive clause" form after a positive clause if the second positive is comparatively greater or stronger than the first positive clause. Note that "positive" and "negative" in these cases refer to the clauses confirming or denying some statement, and not their "value".

Ex.1 I like cooking, but I like reading even more.

Ex.2 There were a lot of smart people, but the stupid people outnumbered them.

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