Buffy: [to Giles] Uh-oh, you have but-face.
[Giles looks confused]
Buffy: You look like you’re gonna say ‘but’.
Words are important to me. I’m a writer; words are my life. As far back as I can remember I’ve enjoyed some word games (puns, limericks) and detested others (guilt trips, shaming statements). I’m a card-carrying member of the Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say Club.
But is a course correction, a turn in the road, a change in the meaning of what preceded it or in what we expect to come after it.
- He was going to answer the phone but then thought better of it. (He didn’t answer the phone.)
- She went with her friend to the restaurant but didn’t order anything. (She didn’t do what one normally does in a restaurant.)
- Pilots thought they spotted debris on the water, but it turned out to be fishing equipment. (The objects were not what they thought they were.)
- I wanted to go out with you, but I was busy. (I didn’t want to go out with you at that time.)
- I know you want your toy, but we didn’t bring it with us. (You can’t have your toy.)
- You may say you’re warm now, but it’s cold outside and you’ll need your jacket. (I know better than you.)
- I’m sorry I hurt you, but you shouldn’t have made me angry. (It’s your fault.)
- I know you want your toy, and I forgot to bring it with us. (I empathize.)
- You’re warm now, and I know it’s cold outside so we’ll bring your jacket just in case. (You are warm now, and I could be wrong about how the cold will affect you. Just in case, we’ll have the jacket.)
- I’m sorry I hurt you, and I felt really angry. (I’m taking responsibility and apologizing, though there should be more to the apology than this.)