Does “But One” Mean “Only One” or “Except One”? (Examples)

Some English phrases can sometimes be confusing, especially when they change meaning by how we use them in a sentence. Sometimes, the phrase could even mean both at the same time. Take, for example, ‘but one.’ Does it mean ‘only one,’ ‘except one,’ or both? Let’s find out and see.

Does ‘But One’ Mean ‘Only One’ or ‘Except One?’

‘But one’ can mean either ‘only one’ or ‘except one.’ It usually implies ‘except one’ when put after determiners like ‘all’ or ‘everything.’ Like the common phrase, ‘all but,’ ‘all but one’ would mean ‘all except one.’ ‘But one’ then generally means ‘only one’ in all other applications.

but one meaning

Saying ‘all but one,’ ‘everything but one,’ or ‘everyone but one’ makes ‘but one’ mean ‘except one.’ So, saying ‘all but one’ is synonymous with saying ‘all except one.’ Take a look at the example below.

  • All but one poster fell because of the winds.

In the sentence above, ‘all but one’ or ‘but one’ indicates that all posters except just one poster fell because of the winds.

This is different from using ‘but one’ in a context with no determiners like ‘all.’ In this case, ‘but’ acts as an adverb, and ‘but one’ means ‘only one.’ Take a look at the example below.

  • You have but one life to live.

In the sentence above, ‘but one’ indicates that the person only has one life to live. Another way to word this is ‘You have only one life to live.’

Watch the video: Only 1 percent of ...
Watch the video: Only 1 percent of our visitors get these 3 grammar questions right...

How to Use ‘But One’ In a Sentence

Below are examples of how to use ‘but one’ in a sentence.

  1. I have but one chance to perfect this performance.
  2. I’ve passed all but one of my school projects.
  3. There is but one way to go to the hotel.
  4. Nobody but one showed concern for me when I was sick.
  5. I eat but one dish from this restaurant.
  6. Everyone but me has paid for the ticket.
  7. No one but him knew about the surprise.
  8. I know but one artist from this list.
  9. I wear all but one color of clothing.
  10. I have but one dream I want to fulfill before I die.

What Does ‘Next But One’ Mean?

‘Next but one’ means one item next to the one. In order, if the next item is ‘Item A,’ ‘next but one’ refers to the one after ‘Item A,’ which is ‘Item B.’ If ‘next’ refers to the next item, ‘next but one’ refers to the second next item.

Take a look at the example below.

  • Ricky’s house is next but one the gate.

In the sentence above, ‘next but one’ indicates that Ricky’s house is the house after the next house, or in other words, the second next item, at that time of speaking.

Below are more examples of using ‘next but one’ in a sentence.

  1. My project was next but one Athena’s.
  2. I used the tool next but one the smallest.
  3. Let’s sit at the table next but one where Hazel’s friends are.
  4. I’m at the next but one the second tent.
  5. Henry lives next but one this house.

What Does “Last But One” Mean?

‘Last but one’ means one item before the last one. Let’s say, for example, that Item Z is the last item, and Item Y is the one before it. ‘Last but one’ refers to Item Y as Item Y is the item before Item Z, which is the last one.

Take a look example below.

  • I ate the last but one chocolate.

In the sentence above, ‘last but one’ indicates that the chocolate ‘I’ ate is the item before the last one, or in a less confusing sense, the second to the last chocolate. It means that the last chocolate is left.

Below are more examples of using ‘last but one’ in a sentence.

  1. I gave the last but one treat to the dog.
  2. I used the last but one smallest screw in the toolbox.
  3. Justin’s classroom is at the last but one room in this hallway.
  4. I drank the last but one bottle of water.
  5. She ate the last but one piece of candy.

“But One”  – Synonyms

Below are some phrases and words synonymous with ‘but one.’

  • except one
  • only one
  • just one
  • excluding one
  • exclusively one

Final Thoughts

‘But one’ can mean both ‘except one’ and ‘only one.’ When used with determiners like ‘no one,’ ‘everything’ or ‘all,’ ‘but one’ means ‘except one.’ In other contexts where determiners are not used, ‘but one’ generally means ‘only one’ or ‘just one.’