Ma, però, bensì

Ma and però both mean “but”. They can be used interchangeably. We use them after a positive or a negative statement to contradict that statement or add additional information.

Anna è castana, ma si tinge i capelli di biondo. 

Anna is brunette, but she dyes her hair blond.

Non ho fame, però mangio lo stesso.

I'm but hungry, but I'm eating anyway.

Bensì also means “but”. We use it after a negative statement to compare or contrast, and can be another word for al contrario.

Non prendo un caffè, bensì un tè.

I won't have a coffee, but rather a tea.

Non abita a Milano, bensì a Roma.

She doesn't live in Milan but in Rome.

Tuttavia and eppure (however/nevertheless/yet): these can be used interchangeably, They come after a positive or negative statement and contradict it

Mi piace il gelato, tuttavia non lo mangio mai.

I like ice cream, however I never eat it.

Non amo passeggiare, eppure lo faccio ogni giorno.

I don't like walking, yet I do it every day.


  • Ma can only be used after the main statement, while però can also be used at the end of a sentence. When it's at the end of a sentence, però adds emphasis.

Marta vorrebbe uno smartphone nuovo, ma costa troppo. 

Marta would like a new smartphone, but it's too expensive.

Mi piace questo orologio, costa troppo però.

I like this watch, it's too expensive though.

  • If we want to emphasize a comparison and add some information, we often use ma in the phrase non solo… ma anche (not only… but also)

Non solo la pizza era buonissima, ma anche molto economica. (=La pizza era buonissima e in più era economica)

Not only was the pizza excellent, but it was also very cheap.

Non solo vendo magliette, ma anche pantaloni. (=Vendo magliette e in più pantaloni)

Not only do they sell t-shirts, but also trousers.

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