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I can't help, but
Timothy Maguire
Posted: Friday, June 15, 2012 6:05 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

In short, I'm having a problem with 'but'.

I know that when you write 'but', you're supposed to have a comma before it. ie:

'I know, but'

However, whenever I write 'I can't help, but' it feels wrong. Are my instincts getting in my way or is this something I'm doing wrong?

Angela Martello
Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 8:44 AM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394

Hi, Timothy,

Follow this rule: If the group of words following the word "but" is independent (that is, you can make it stand as a separate sentence), then you need the comma. If the group of words can't stand as a separate sentence, then no comma.

"I can't help it, but I think I have to do something." (I can't help it. I think I have to do something.)


"I can't help but do something." (There really is no way to separate that into two complete sentences.)

Hope this helps.

Timothy Maguire
Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 9:01 AM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

Yep, that explains it. Thanks.


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