I am confused about the function of the word "but" in given sentence what "part of speech" the word "but" is in the given sentence. I actually shared my opinions with my teacher about the word "but".

My opinions: The word " but" is an adverb in the given sentence because it modifies adjective "easy". Moreover, I looked it up in dictionary and it got something else "anything but" is also an idiom. Secondly, I checked it in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary — the same sentence is written in there and it called it as a preposition.

My teacher called it as a preposition and he also said, it can be idiomatic adverb. Then also gave me a sentence: The hotel is anything but satisfactory —from OLAD. I am not sure what actually he shared but I am eagerly waiting for your clarification.

Kindly, analyze the sentence structurally and remove this confusion with your remarks. Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    See but: "5. preposition - But is used to mean 'except'." which is the case in your examples. – user3169 Jun 9 '18 at 2:04
  • I didn't get any good explanation about my answer since this is very confusing. – I don't know who I am. Jun 9 '18 at 8:02
  • There is the word "easy" in the given sentence. It's an adjective. Therefore, I'm asking you for "analysis" and its "structures" and "explanations". – I don't know who I am. Jun 9 '18 at 8:05
  • I think this is what you are looking for - anything but. Basically it modifies easy. Seems like your teacher was right. – user3169 Jun 9 '18 at 20:16
  • Please, give me some reasons. I am not satisfied with it yet. – I don't know who I am. Jun 9 '18 at 23:36

Your teacher is correct. The idiomatic expression "anything but X" means "emphatically not X".

She isn't talkative. She is anything but talkative. You'll be lucky if you can get a word out of her.

It's generally not meaningful to analyze idioms with formal grammar, since they're often unique cases. Even with similar idioms such as

The war is all but over.


They fed us nothing but tea and cake.

"but" may be classified as a preposition, but the meanings of the idioms vary. "All but over" means it's nearly over. "Nothing but tea and cake" means only tea and cake. The best way to deal with these is to memorize the expressions and use them where appropriate.

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