You use the expression but still when you want to say that something remains true despite what has just been said or done.
Let me explain with the help of a couple of scenarios.
Here is the first one:
You see a 4-year child reciting a difficult poem very well. You are impressed and tell the child’s mother:
You: That was really impressive! You have a very talented child there!
Child’s mother: Thanks! But of course this is the result of many hours of practice.
You: But still!
When the mother says, “this is the result of many hours of practice”, she is being modest. She means, “Yes, my child’s performance was good, but she has had a lot of practice, so we can’t put it all down to his/her talent.”
When you say, “But still!”, you mean:
Yes, I know that she has had a lot of practice, but her performance was so good that, even if we consider the effect of practice on her performance, we still have to accept that she is very talented.
Want another example? Here it is:
It’s Day Three of Rio 2016 Olympic Games and so far France has only got one silver medal.
You: That’s awful. We are having a very bad Olympics!
Your friend: Well, we have had several injuries and we have been unlucky in some of the competitions.
You: Yes, I know, but still!
What you mean is:
I expected the performance level of French athletes to be high enough to win more than one silver medal in three day even with injuries and bad luck.
And one more:
Sometimes, you may be discussing something very logically and making great points in an argument only for someone to answer with a simple “But still!” instead of providing any evidence, reasons, or counterarguments:
Mr or Ms X: I hope the new president fights for the people, breaks the establishment, protects us against banks and big businesses and helps create a fairer society!
You: How could an ex-banker who has risen to power with the help of key establishment figures and the big media ever protect the interests of the people and not the banks and businesses?!
Mr or Ms X: But still!
Yes, it can be frustrating, but that’s life! 🙂
Well, that’s it! I hope you are now able to use “but still” correctly and naturally.
Have you ever been in a situation when you used or could use this expression? If you like, you are welcome to try and use the expression in some realistic sentences in the comments.
Note: There’s one more use of “but still” that I’ll discuss in a future post!