‘BUT FOR’ (third conditional)

We know that ‘but for’ + a phrase means except for or if it were not for. At C1, this structure can be combined with a ‘would have clause’  so it is similar to a past conditional.  All together this construction means “if it wasn’t for this thing that happened, then this other thing was not possible to happen.”


But for her advice in a lot of situations, I would not have had a wonderful childhood.

PELIC JapaneseFemale level 5 grammar class.

*Her grandmother gave her advice.  She had a wonderful childhood.  The writer imagines the opposite past situation.

77 GSE C1

  • ‘but for’ + noun phrase, ‘would have’ clause (third conditional)
  • replace past conditionals with ‘but for’ in formal statements.


Why will the English Grammar Profiler now start to incorporate the GSE alongside the EGP?

The following two images show the difference of including a GSE grammar point to level prediction.  In the first, ‘but for’ is highlighted as A1 and in the second C1, and the ‘would’ verb phrase changed from A2 or B1 to C1.  Lifting the overall second part prediction from B1 to C1.  This structure does not exist in the EGP or EVP which might mean it is actually higher than C2.