So far, I remember 4 ways to say "but" in Japanese, but I bet there are more, aren't there?

  • kedo
  • demo
  • daga
  • shikashi

Are there other ways to say "but" in Japanese? What about their difference in usage?

  • 1
    I think this list is pretty solid: jisho.org/search/but There are also example sentences from Tatoeba and you can also reverse look up those buts in 英辞郎 when in doubt
    – siikamiika
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 22:51

3 Answers 3


I feel the given answers and comments can be improved. Also nobody really talked about the difference in usage of the various forms you introduced.

First of all, what do you really want to know? From the way you ask your question it seems to me that you are mostly interested in "but" as a conjunction used in sentences such as "I should be working but instead I'm posting an answer on stack exchange".

If this is correct, you can forget about more than half of the examples coming up in the referenced dictionary. If you are instead interested in "but" in a broader sense (including adverbs such as "however" etc) well, post a comment.

To get back to your answer (focusing on conjunctions) the most common ways to say but are:

  1. けど - けれど - けれども: These all mean the same thing, and the main difference is purely in formality (going from the most casual (けど) to the most formal (けれども).
  2. でも: This as well is a very typical way to say "but". The difference with the above is that けど etc connect a second clause while でも is more like a "standalone". See this related question for example.
  • 2.1. だが: This as well means "but" and could be quite interchangeable with でも in usage, the difference being that だが is much more formal and probably you'll find it mostly in written documents.. or in something like:

[...] 海は枯れ、地は裂け、全ての生物が死滅したかのように見えた。 だが、人類は死滅していなかった。

... And if you don't upvote after this you're a post-apocalyptic punk who deserves a 北斗百裂拳. :D

  1. しかし: It's a bit like でも but more formal and probably again you would find it in written documents etc. I usually think of this more as "however" rather than "but" (although well yeah, the meaning is quite the same).

  2. が : This does not always necessarily mean "but" but there are cases it can, for example when it connects two clauses opposite to each other. For example : 老人だが、彼はまだたいそう元気だ。

  3. BONUS。。 のに: This might sound strange at first but I put it here as a sort of way to say (joking) that questions like yours are very hard to answer (that's why above I stressed "what do you want to know"). In fact, you could see even のに as but. Think about this: こんなに頑張ったのに、私の答えはほとんど無視された. Which of course you would probably translate as "Even though I put a lot of effort (on it), my answer has been basically ignored".. but isn't this the same as "I put a lot on effort on it but my answer has been basically ignored"?

So as you can see there are really a lot of ways to say "but". I think I listed the most common and tried to give you an idea of the main differences. Of course if I had to list all the synonyms (ただし etc) or less common forms such as しかるに etc.. this post would be endless. I hope what I said so far gives you a good general idea.

This is another reference that seems to me gives some nice explanations of different ways to say "but".


ただし (tadashi) is another one you can use. You usually use them in different contexts. I think tadashi is more declarative. Demo is more informal and is used like "but... why?" And Shikashi is usually used in a more formal way.

EDIT: Also as siikamiika said you can look it up on jisho which is a really good Japanese dictionary


A couple used in written Japanese, but not so commonly in speech:

ものの "although" at the end of a clause: pretty much the same in meaning as が or のに

にもかかわらず "in spite of the fact that" at the end of a clause: strongly adversative

それにしても "even so" at the beginning of a sentence: again strongly adversative

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