English Vocabulary Lesson – Nothing But & Anything But

Michael Vocabulary 2 Comments

Building up your vocabulary is essential when you are learning a second language. In this English lesson, let’s look at the difference between nothing but and anything but. This will help you in your everyday English conversations, as well as on English tests such as the TOEIC exam.

I’ve had nothing but trouble with my laptop. It’s always breaking down. It is anything but reliable. I think it is time for a new one.  When we use the word but after nothing and anything, there is a special meaning for each collocation. Today, I’m going to teach you how to use these useful phrases in English.

Nothing but means a lot of. The grammar is nothing but + noun (or) nothing but + noun phrase. We often use nothing but when we complain about something or talk about the negative aspects of something, but you can use nothing but when we talk about positive situations or things:

  • Jack’s son is nothing but trouble. Jack’s son always causes problems.
  • We had nothing but problems on our vacation. We had a lot of problems on our vacation.
  • I have nothing but good things to say about my new job. I like my new job!

Anything but means entirely not. The grammar is usually anything but + adjective and sometimes anything + noun.  We generally use anything but when we complain about something or talk about the negative aspects of something:

  • His story was anything but true.
  • Jack was anything but on time for work.
  • I was anything but happy to hear that news from her.

Keep in mind the best way to remember this or any vocabulary in English is to take the word or phrase write it in a sentence that’s true for you or true in your world and then memorize your sentences.

You can even take your sentences and write them in the comments below. I would love to see your examples. And if you really want help with vocabulary, sign up for my free vocabulary workshop (see below).

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!


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Comments 2

    1. Post

      Hi Sareh,
      Thanks for the message. We also do use an adjective after “anything but” My typing is anything but perfect, so I went ahead and changed that in the post. Thanks!

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