On a website, it was written:

  • Nobody will put up with you, but me.

  • No one will love you, but me.

Is the use of "but me" natural?

  • 1
    Yes. Is there some reason why you think it's not? Please add more detail to explain why you find this confusing. – Andrew Feb 24 '19 at 15:16
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    It's also worth noting that those particular sentences are things that people will associate with the abusive partner in an abusive relationship. – SamBC Feb 24 '19 at 20:00

"Nobody but me" is a common, standard phrase. It can be used without being split:

Nobody but me will put up with you.

Or it can be split:

Nobody will put up with you but me.

Both usages are common and natural in my experience. I would say that it is common to use the split form when you are trying to emphasise the "nobody" and the exceptional nature of "but me".

Any noun can take the place of the me, by the way - it works as:

Nobody but me
Nobody but you
Nobody but Steve
Nobody but the dog
Nobody but that tramp on the park bench

As long as the noun/noun phrase is 'somebody', it works. Similar things work, including the ability to split it, with other no- pronouns, or even other nouns/pronouns negated with 'no':

Nothing matters to me but you
Nowhere will hire me but fast food joints
No work fulfils me but writing

And you can even use other things to substitute for the but, though the meaning changes:

No-one will love you like me
Nothing removes all these stains - except WonderClean

In fact, the pattern is really

No<noun> verb <objects>/<complements> <preposition> <noun>

Not all prepositions or phrases that act in the same manner can be used, but some that can are: like, but, other than, except, and better than.

The important thing to remember in the "no ... but" version is that but is being a preposition, not a conjunction, and is essentially the same in meaning as except.

  • So @SamBC are my sentences natural? Jeff Morrow says that it's not natural . – It's about English Feb 24 '19 at 17:03
  • Perfectly natural based on my experience of 36 years being born, raised, educated, living and working in Britain as a native speaker. Though the commas aren't needed unless you want to indicate a dramatic pause. – SamBC Feb 24 '19 at 17:08

That usage is almost certainly grammatical, but it does seem awkward.

Nobody but me will put up with you

seems far more natural than

Nobody will put up with you, but me.

In the first sentence, it is obvious that "but" is being used as a preposition to initiate a phrase modifying "nobody."

In the second sentence, the placement of "but" after an independent clause makes it seem that "but" will be used as a conjunction even though its real function is as a preposition relating to "nobody."

The second sentence will be understood, but the general rule is that a prepositional phrase should be relatively close to the word it relates to.

  • "Nobody but me" or "nobody but i," what's the difference? – Kumar sadhu Feb 24 '19 at 15:46
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    The second is not received grammar. One of the few remaining vestiges of a case system in English is with pronouns. A pronoun that is the object of a preposition should, according to received English grammar, be in the accusative case: me, you, him, her, us, or them. English speakers do not rely on case inflections, and consequently even many educated native speakers do not consistently use the accusative case for pronouns that are objects of prepositions. – Jeff Morrow Feb 24 '19 at 15:56
  • The second sentence matches what I hear and see used a lot. The first gets used as well, of course, but the second is far from unusual or unacceptable. – SamBC Feb 24 '19 at 16:17
  • I note that Jeff's answer has three times been marked down for no given reason. If others find fault with it, I think they should tell us why. I am voting it up again. – Ronald Sole Feb 24 '19 at 17:16
  • @SamBC I did not say it was "unacceptable." I said it was almost certainly grammatical. I was making the point that it was hard to parse because "but" was so far displaced from "nobody." What is awkward is not determined by the number of people who say it, but by the ease with which an audience can process it. – Jeff Morrow Feb 24 '19 at 17:44

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