Is it ok to say “but then”?

Yes, it is. We use it all the time in speech and in informal styles of writing. It has the same meaning as “but”. For example, when we say, “Tendulkar is a gifted batsman, but then, so is Dravid”, what we mean is that both Dravid and Tendulkar are gifted batsmen. Tendulkar is a gifted batsman, but so is Dravid.

Here is another example. “I would like to help you, but then my wife wouldn’t like it.” What you mean here is that you would like to help the individual, but you are not in a position to because your wife wouldn’t like it. Maybe, she will get angry — and no husband wants to make his “better half” angry!

The Hindu- ‘Know Your English’ Series, October 4, 2004

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2 thoughts on “Is it ok to say “but then”?

  1. In terms of everyday speech, the difference can be quite a subtle one. Purported is a little more like ‘apparent’ or ‘seeming’, with the implication that all is not quite as it seems. For example ” The quality of his work did not match his purported experience”.

    Alleged tends to be used more in a legal context, and means that someone is said to have done something, or rumoured to have done something…but as yet there is no proof. For example “the government minister is alleged to have accepted bribes”.

    As with many English words like this, the differences in meaning are slight. In some cases this difference will still be significant, and in others it won’t make much difference which word you choose to use.

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