Different words for “However”

Could you explain how and when to use the following words;
No entanto

They all seem to mean But/ However
If there’s anymore words that also comply with the words but/ however then please comment them

A question I have had also.


@reececox2000, they’re all generally treated as synonyms. Mas is the most usual choice (also the simplest) in any context - all the others are alternative options that tend to be reserved mainly for more formal contexts.

@j1711, entretanto doesn’t fit in this list - it means meanwhile. Neither does embora - it means although.


That makes sense to me although I have seen both as a possible translation of “however”. Obrigado

Just to add to Joseph’s reply from an English perspective. I normally consider “mas” to be the direct equivalent of “but” in English. And the other words you list to be more the equivalent of “however”.

If you consider English, then “but” and “however” are synonymous in most cases. But (or However), not in the sentence:

“He is not only miserable, but also rude.” - Only “but” works here.

Equally, in the same sentence in Portuguese:

“Ele não é apenas miserável, mas também mal-educado.” – I think only “mas” works here unless Joseph knows a different word that fits.

I also feel that while “but” is used a great deal in spoken English, “however” is added more into the mix in written English, if only to provide a bit of variety. The same seems to be the case in written Portuguese. - Except, they have a lot more to choose from.

(Incidentally, in Spanish there is a different word for this kind of “but”. Generally, “pero” = “but”. However, “sino” = “but” in the not only, but… sense. And then Portuguese also has the word senão, but that has a slightly different meaning/usage. – Isn’t this what makes language so fascinating?)

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The following video provides example using all of these words, plus many other sentence connectors:

I’ve watched it at least a dozen times.

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Thanks, @samarang :slight_smile: I’ll just add that in the specific example you gave with “not only… but also” (não só… mas também), we can also use como, and that is the only context I can think of where this word might be translated as but, @j1711.

  • Ele não é apenas miserável, mas também mal-educado. = Ele não é apenas miserável, como também mal-educado.

As for entretanto, it can have a contrastive function, but at least for me, that function still falls within the general scope of ‘meanwhile’.

  • Nós esperávamos cem pessoas. Entretanto, apareceram quinhentas. (We expected 100 people. Meanwhile, 500 showed up. ~ We expected 100 people. But 500 showed up.)

In other contexts where there’s no passing of time, entretanto doesn’t usually feel idiomatic as an alternative for but or however in European Portuguese. So, I don’t recommend looking at entretanto as directly comparable to the other alternatives in this topic.
For example:

  • Ele é preguiçoso. Contudo, é muito inteligente. ~ Ele é preguiçoso. Entretanto, é muito inteligente. (awkward alternative)