All three words can be translated by "but" or "however" but how do they differ in meaning and in use?

My question applies also to the shortened form of them used to merge two sentences in one: -러나, -ㄴ데 and -지만.

This is a situation similar to 그래서/그러니까 that both used for consequences, but are not totally interchangeable.

  • I edited the question to broaden it to the short form of these connectors. I don't think it deserves a separate question.
    – Taladris
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


They have somewhat different nuance about them, but are functionally interchangeable, in much the the same way that "but," "however," and "even so," are in English.

That said, there are some slight incidental differences in how they tend to be used:

  • 그러나 is used more commonly in narration or some formal situations.
  • 그런데 is more casual and is often used between friends.
  • 그렇지만 is sort of general, doesn't seem to be used more or less in any situation or setting.
  • Thanks. I don't have my textbooks with me but I remember that 그래서 and 그러니까 behave differently when using tense marker (you can use tense markers with the shorter form of one but not the other), and one can be used in imperative sentences but not the other. Is there this kind of difference with 그러나/그런데/그렇지만 ?
    – Taladris
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 2:40

Roughly translatable as below:

  • 그러나 : but
  • 그런데 : by the way
  • 그렇지만 : however

"그런데" doesn't necessary have negative nuance (could express the speaker don't agree with previous dialog)

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