The “but” in Japanese

Today we are going to learn about the different ways to say “but” in Japanese. You can say “but” using the particle ga (が), kedo (けど), demo (でも) and others. But I always wondered which one to use. They will be answered with some examples and explanations in this article.

Demo (でも)

This is one of the most well-known and used forms, usually used at the beginning of the sentence, but it can never appear at the end and in the middle of a sentence like kedo (けど) and others. Demo is used for more colloquial tones, a more formal way of saying "but" at the beginning of the sentence is Shikashi (しかし).


  • 友達の家に行くつもりでした。 でも、彼女は病気です。
  • Tomodachi no ie ni iku tsumorideshita. Demo, kanojo wa byōkidesu;
  • I was going to a friend's house. But, she is sick;

  • 今日、学校に行きません。でも明日行きます
  • Kyou, gakkou ni ikimasen. Ikimasu ashita demo;
  • Today I am not going to school, but tomorrow I am;

  • 私はあなたがすき。でも、君はバカです
  • Watashi wa anata a suki。 demo, kimi wa baka desu;
  • I love you. But you are an idiot;

  • でも、あなたにあげるりんごはありません;
  • Demo, anata ni ageru ringo wa arimasen
  • But I have no apples to give you;

Kedo or Keredomo (けど or けれども)

Kedo can mean: but nevertheless nevertheless or after all. Unlike でも o けど is used between clauses to make a compound sentence, creating opposite sentences. There are some degrees of formality which are:

  • Keredomo (けれども) = Quite formal
  • Keredo (けれど) = Formal, but not so much
  • Kedo (けど)  = Informal

Usage examples: 

  • 頼まれた仕事は終わりましたけど、部品が一個足りなかった。
  • Tanomareta shigoto wa owarimashitakedo, buhin ga ichi-ko tarinakatta;
  • I finished the job they asked me for, but one piece was missing;

  • 彼はあまり勉強しないけれども、成績がいい
  • Kare wa amari benkyō shinaikeredomo, seiseki gaii
  • He doesn't study much, but he gets good grades;

When a sentence ends with nouns and adjectives like AT, it is necessary to put the verb “To be” in simple form (da - だ) before けど thus transforming into だけど。Examples: 

  • ケビンは先生だけれども、教えるのが嫌いです。
  • Kebin wa sensei by keredomo, oshieru no ga kirai desu;
  • Kevin is a teacher, but he doesn't like to teach;

  • 友達はたくさんいるんだけど、 なんか寂しい。
  • Tomodachi wa takusan irun dakedo, nanka sabishii;
  • I have many friends, but I feel lonely;

Shikashi (しかし)

Shikashi also means “but"Or"However“However, it is more formal and has a stronger impact than でも. Shikashi is most commonly used in official or written speeches.しかし has a similar meaning to けれども but is used at the beginning of sentences. Let's see some examples:

  • しかし今や事態は大きく変わった;
  • Shikashi imaya jitai wa ōkiku kawatta;
  • But now the situation has changed a lot;

  • しかし、私はあなたが大好きですよ;
  • Shikashi, watashi wa anata ga daisukidesu yo;
  • However, I really like you;

Particle GA (が)

When you find the particle ga (が) after the “desu”She is linking 2 sentences. Pit can be translated as "but", "and" or "however". Unlike the けど O it makes the opposition a little softer, less evident, adding a little hesitation. 

が after です can be used even if you are not going to finish the sentence. Like one but ... kind of indecisive. Using too much が instead of けど will indicate that you are a little undecided about what you are talking about.

Remember that the particle が after the verb does not always mean “but”Or an opposition. 

  • 明日は雨だ、ピクニックに行く;
  • Ashita wa amedaga, pikunikku ni iku;
  • It will rain tomorrow, but we are going to a picnic

  • 学ぶつもりです
  • Manabu tsumoridesuga
  • I am going to learn, but ..;

In summary, we can conclude that でも and しかし are used at the beginning of the sentence, being でも more informal and colloquial. While the けど family and が are used at the end of the sentence to create an opposition, が being a more lenient and less evident opposition.

This subject is not very complicated, with time we will learn to use, but the best way to know which condition to use will depend on knowing every language, and understanding the feeling that Japanese people have when speaking these words.