I've seen "yet" used in place of "but" like:

He was bulky, yet devilishly quick.

You buy yourself golden earrings, yet you cannot afford medicine for your mother!

I'm fairly sure this usage is somewhat archaic, but I never got any hunch just how archaic it is. Would you find it in modern formal speech? Would it sound awkward in common conversation? Does it bear any special connotations different than "but"?

  • 7
    Not archaic and not obscure. Very common and idiomatic English.
    – user264
    Feb 24 '13 at 16:14
  • Not exactly "obscure", but definitely far less common than "but" with that sense in speech. Feb 24 '13 at 16:58
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers It is to be hoped that some, at least, of our visitors intend to read as well as speak. Feb 24 '13 at 20:14
  • @StoneyB: Absolutely. I just wanted to make the point that SF's perception isn't entirely without foundation, even if he's massively overstated the position. Taking "I'm tired but happy", for example, (which would almost always be words actually spoken), there are apparently 145 instances in Google Books. But not a single one for the same statement using "yet" instead of "but". Feb 24 '13 at 20:49

In the sentence you used as an example, yet means "but at the same time" or "nevertheless." Using yet as conjunction is not archaic; it is still used nowadays.

The path was dark, yet I slowly found my way.


As a native US English speaker, I think "yet" sounds a little more literary or poetic or dramatic. Most people in casual conversation will probably say "but", but "yet" is certainly understandable and not archaic.

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