February 7, 2013

The Various Words for “But”

Question

What is the difference between all of these words which may be translated as “but” in English? किंतु, मगर, लेकिन, बल्कि, परन्तु, पर, फिर भी

Answer

The most common “adversative conjunctions” are लेकिन, पर, and मगर; these are employed in colloquial Hindi. They are basically interchangeable.

मैं तुम लोगों के साथ जाना चाहता हूँ, लेकिन मुझे बहुत काम है (“I want to go with you all, but I have a lot of work”)

फिर भी is a bit different; it has a concessive sense; it may be translated using words like “although, though, even though, still, anyway, but, yet”:

उसको हिंदी नहीं आती फिर भी उसको हिंदी मूवीस देखना पसंद है: (“[Although] he doesn’t understand Hindi, he [still] enjoys watching Hindi movies”)

मुझे नींद आ रही है फिर भी मैं जागता रहूँगा तुम लोगों के साथ समय बिताने के लिए (“I’m feeling sleepy, [but] I’ll stay awake [anyway] to spend some time with you all.)

फिर भी is often complementary to adversative conjunctions, although it may be a bit redundant:

मुझे नींद आ रही है पर मैं फिर भी जागता रहूँगा तुम लोगों के साथ समय बिताने के लिए (“I am feeling sleepy, [but] I’ll [still] stay up to spend some time with all of you.”)

उसको बताया गया कि यह काम नामुमकीन है फिर भी उसने कोशिश की (“He was told that the task is impossible, yet he tried anyway”)

किंतु and परन्तु are very formal words, so I would not recommend them for common use.

बल्कि has the force of “but rather” or “but instead”:

मैं मिठाइयाँ नहीं बल्कि नमकीन खाना चाहता हूँ (“I want to eat not sweets, but rather salty snacks.”)

  • Divija Sampathi

    Why do we say ‘उसको हिंदी नहीं आती’ ?? why not ‘aata’ instead of ‘aati’? Pls clarify

    • Because “Hindi” is a feminine noun. This idiom literally means “to him Hindi comes”, so “Hindi” is the grammatical subject of the verb, although the semantic subject is “he” or “she”.