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What is the meaning of the expression:

You may be something but...

For example:

1) You know what, Brian? You may be a dog but you're a pretty cool cat.

2) The lion may be the king of jungle, but the wolf never performs in the circus.

3) He may be poor, but he appears to be rich

Does may be with but work here as despite the fact? (but even if it does it only works for 1 & 3.)

1) Despite the fact that you're a dog, you're a pretty cool cat

3) Despite the fact that he's poor, he still looks rich

What could this expression possibly mean?

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    It can work for #2, also, with a bit of tweaking: Despite the fact that the lion is king of the jungle, the wolf never performs in the circus. Maybe you have to think about it a little more, but I think that sentence still works. – J.R. Sep 27 '18 at 11:08
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You're definitely on the right way. "Even though" may help you understand the meaning too:

The lion may be the king of jungle, but the wolf never performs in the circus. = Event though the lion is (supposedly) the king of jungle, the wolf never performs in the circus.

Even though he is poor, he appears to be rich.

The sentence "You know what, Brian? You may be a dog but you're a pretty cool cat" is a bit tricky. I think I understand what the speaker means. But we might need more context here. Anyway, I'd interpret it like this:

You know what, Brian? You may be a dog but you're a pretty cool cat. = You know what, Brain? You make a great dog but you're a pretty cool cat.

"Even though" or "despite the fact" which you have suggested work too, I think. But without more context, it's difficult to understand what makes the speaker say such a thing.

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