Still, Yet and Already - Detailed Explanation

adverbs grammar short video lessons vocabulary Jun 25, 2021
Kris Amerikos. Still vs. Yet

Still, Yet, Already - What’s the difference?      

Still, yet, and already are three adverbs that English learners often mix up.  The meanings of these words are distinctly different from each other, but they do overlap in certain sentences which blurs the lines of their clear definitions. 

In this blog, we will look at the uses of these words to define their meanings clearly.  It’s important to know the difference to eliminate any ambiguity and to ensure our tone is correct when speaking and writing in English.  It’s the subtle art of using these words correctly that showcases an excellent understanding of the English language

Still - Meaning and Explanation

‘Still’ means continuing to happen or continuing to be done.  It speaks about an action that started in the past and continues into the present time.  The action is continuing up to and includes the present time.  

Is it still a negative word?

‘Still’ is not a negative word.  ‘Still’ means that something has happened in the past and it continues to happen now.  If we want to use ‘still’ in the negative, we can add ‘not’ to give it the same meaning as ‘yet.’

 

Compare:

“I still haven’t finished.”

“I haven’t finished yet.”

 

Both of these sentences have the same meaning.  An action from the past has not been completed but we are expecting or hoping to finish it.  ‘Still + not’ emphasizes frustration over the fact that something hasn’t been done.

Is it not yet a sentence?

‘It not yet’ is not a complete sentence because there is no verb.  “It is not yet complete” is a correct sentence.  When ‘yet’ comes before an adjective, it emphasizes the adjective and makes the sentence more formal.

 

Example:

“You cannot read my book.  It is not yet complete.”

 

This sentence has the same meaning as:

“You cannot read my book.  It is not complete yet.”

Is still an adverb or a conjunction?   

In the sentence “it was very hot; still, it was pleasant,” ‘still’ appears to play the role of a conjunction.  It’s difficult to distinguish conjunctions from adverbs in sentences like these.  It’s important to remember that conjunctions make grammatical connections and meaning connections between two clauses, whereas adverbs can only make meaning connections.

 

Compare: 

“It was very hot, but it was pleasant.”

“It was very hot; still, it was pleasant.”

 

‘But’ is a conjunction and ‘still’ is an adverb.  The key difference is that the conjunction joins the two sentences (or clauses) into one sentence and the adverb only joins the meanings of the separate sentences.  

 

Grammatically, an adverb cannot join two clauses, so the two clauses are entirely separate and must remain separate. 

It’s important to note the punctuation differences in writing.   

A semicolon (;) or a full stop (.) must precede the adverb and a comma must always follow it (,):    

 

“It was very hot; still, it was pleasant.”

“It was very hot.  Still, it was pleasant.”

 

A conjunction does not always require punctuation or a comma (,) can precede it:

“It was very hot and it was pleasant.”

“It was very hot, but it was pleasant.”

How to use still in a sentence 

‘Still’ is a mid-position adverbial.  

This means that it comes before one-word verbs:

“She still runs twice a week.” 

“It still smells bad.”

 

Or after auxiliary verbs:

“He is still going to English lessons.”

“We are still finishing our homework.”

 

Or after the main verb ‘to be’ (is/are/am/was/were):

“I am still hungry.”

“They are still angry.”

 

In negative sentences, ‘still’ comes before ‘not’ to emphasise the negative; otherwise, it comes before the negative verb:

“They still haven’t finished their work.”

“They have still not finished their work.”

 

With negative sentences that have the main verb ‘to be,’ ‘still’ must come after ‘to be’ and before ‘not’:

“I am still not hungry.”

“He was still not happy.”

Where do you put still?

‘Still’ is a mid-position adverbial.  This means that it comes before one-word verbs (“They still know each other”), after auxiliary verbs (“They are still running twice a week”), after main verb ‘to be’ (“I am still happy”) and before the negative verb (“We still haven’t played in the park”)

Can I use a comma after still?

If we use ‘still’ as an adverb to make a meaning connection between two separate sentences, then we must use a comma after ‘still.’  We must also put a full stop or a semicolon before ‘still.’

 

Example:

“He didn’t want to go out; still, he had a good time.”

Yet - Meaning and Explanation 

‘Yet’ means ‘still’ but in the negative.  It means ‘it still hasn’t happened’ and we use it when we are expecting something to happen, but it hasn’t happened.   The speaker is expecting the action to happen in the present or future.

What is yet in grammar?

In grammar, ‘yet’ is an adverb and a conjunction. ‘Yet,’ as an adverb, says that the speaker is waiting for the action (the verb) to happen, but it hasn’t yet.  As a conjunction, ‘yet’ means ‘but’ or ‘nevertheless.’

How do you explain yet?

‘Yet’ describes an action that is expected to happen and the speaker is waiting for it to happen at the time of speaking.  ‘Yet’ can only be used if the action has not happened.  We commonly use ‘yet’ with negative sentences and questions.

 

Examples:

“I haven’t finished my work yet.”

“Have you cleaned your room yet?”

Is it yet a negative word?

‘Yet’ is a negative word because it describes something that has not been done.  If we use ‘yet’ in a positive sentence, its meaning is ‘still + not.’  ‘Yet’ always has a negative meaning and it implies a negative meaning.

 

‘Yet’ does not have the power to make a sentence negative.

 

We cannot say:

“I have done my work yet.”

 

‘Yet’ does not negate the positive verb, so it is simply incorrect to use it in the above example.  Therefore, using ‘not’ and ‘yet’ in the same sentence does not create a double negative.  ‘Yet’ adds the idea that something hasn’t been done and we are expecting it to be done.

 

Compare:

“I haven’t finished my work.” 

 

There is no indication that I will finish my work.

 

“I haven’t finished my work yet.”

 

It hasn’t been completed but the speaker is expecting it to be completed.

How to use yet as a conjunction

‘Yet’ is also a conjunction.  We can use it in place of ‘but’ and ‘nevertheless.’ As a conjunction, we use ‘yet’ to show contrast.  We can use it in combination with ‘and’ to create ‘and yet.’

 

“It was very hot and yet it was pleasant.”

“He was tired, yet he went out.”

Is yet a preposition? 

‘Yet’ is not a preposition.  ‘Yet’ can only be an adverb or a conjunction.  

 

A preposition is a word that connects two things, such as a noun and an adjective or a verb and a noun.  

 

“The man is at the table.”

“He is addicted to social media.”

 

‘Yet’ is an adverb that means ‘still not until the present’ or a conjunction that means ‘in contrast.’  It is never a preposition.

How to use yet in a sentence 

As an adverb, ‘yet’ is used in negative sentences to say that something has not been completed up to this point in the present.

 

“They haven’t cleaned their rooms yet.”

“She hasn’t been to the shops yet.”

 

‘Yet’ can be used in the affirmative.  Its meaning is ‘still not:’

 

Note: the form changes in the affirmative.

Subject + have/has yet to + infinitive

 

“They have yet to finish dinner.”

“They still haven’t finished dinner.”

Yet at the end of a sentence  

As an adverb, ‘yet’ comes at the end of a sentence.

 

“She hasn’t finished her work yet.”

“They haven’t gone to the shops yet.”

Are yet to be meaning?

“Are yet to be” is the affirmative use of ‘yet.’  ‘Yet’ in the affirmative means ‘still + not.’  The word order changes when ‘yet’ is used in the affirmative.  

 

Examples:

They still aren’t done!

They are yet to be done. 

Did you yet or have you yet?

If we stick to the strict rules of English grammar, ‘did you...yet?’ is wrong and ‘have you...yet?’ is correct.  However, ‘did you...yet?’ is common in American English and ‘have you...yet?’ is used in British English. 

 

American English: “Did you eat yet?”

British English: “Have you eaten yet?”

Is it not yet a sentence?

‘It not yet’ is not a complete sentence because there is no verb.  “It is not yet complete” is a correct sentence.  When ‘yet’ comes before an adjective, it emphasizes the adjective and makes the sentence more formal.

 

Example:

“You cannot read my book.  It is not yet complete.”

 

This sentence has the same meaning as:

“You cannot read my book.  It is not complete yet.”

What is the meaning of not yet?

‘Not yet’ is a short reply that we can use to answer a question about whether or not something has been done.

 

Examples:

“Have you taken the dog for a walk?”

“Not yet.”

 

The inferred meaning is that the action hasn’t happened, but the responder is planning on doing it.  

 

‘Not yet’ is the short answer that means “I haven’t taken the dog for a walk yet.”

What can I use instead of yet?

We can use ‘as yet,’ ‘still + not’ or ‘so far’ instead of ‘yet’ as an adverb.

 

Examples:

“I haven’t completed my work so far.”

“I haven’t gone for a run as yet.”

“They still haven’t completed the new bridge.”

 

We can use ‘although,’ ‘but,’ ‘all the same,’ ‘in spite of this,’ and ‘nevertheless’ to replace ‘yet’ as a conjunction.

 

Examples:

“It rained but we still swam.”

“It rained.  All the same, we swam.”

“It rained.  Nevertheless, we swam.”

“It rained.  In spite of this, we swam.”

Do I put a comma after yet?

We do not put a comma after ‘yet’ when we use it as a conjunction.  We can put a comma before ‘yet,’ however, we do not put commas after conjunctions.

Are yet and but the same?

‘Yet’ and ‘but’ are interchangeable conjunctions; however, they do not have the same meaning.

‘Yet’ means in spite of this.  ‘But’ simply introduces a sentence that contradicts the first sentence.  The meanings are so close that one can be changed for the other, but the meaning and feel of the sentence changes.

What kind of conjunction is yet?

‘Yet’ is a coordinating conjunction.  A coordinating conjunction connects two sentences that both carry equal weight.  Both of the sentences it joins hold equal importance.

Which is correct not yet decided or not decided yet?

We can say “I have not yet decided” and “I have not decided yet.”

 

Both of these sentences are grammatically correct.  ‘Yet’ can come after the auxiliary verb + not to emphasize the fact that a decision has not been made.

How do you use yet in the middle of a sentence?

‘Yet’ is used in the middle of the sentence in affirmative sentence:

 

“I have yet to meet her.”

“They are yet to meet.”

 

‘Yet’ can also be used before the main verb or before an adjective to emphasize the main verb or the adjective:

 

“I haven’t yet run in a race.”

“I am not yet happy.”

Should I use yet or but?

We use ‘yet’ to mean ‘in spite of this’ and ‘but’ to contradict the previous clause.  They can be used interchangeably and the sentence will still make sense, so it depends on the tone you wish to use when speaking.

 

“I am 70 years old but I am young at heart.”

 

In contradiction to being 70 years old, I am young at heart.

 

“I am 70 years old yet I am young at heart.”

 

In spite of being 70 years old, I am young at heart.

How do you know when to use but or yet?

‘Yet’ is more formal and ‘but’ is more common in everyday speech.  ‘Yet’ is too formal to use in day-to-day speech.  To be safe, use ‘but’ every day and ‘yet’ in formal situations.

Is not yet or has not yet?

“It is not yet complete” and “it has not yet been completed” have the same meaning.  In the first example ‘complete’ is an adjective.  In the second example, ‘completed’ is a verb.  

 

‘is not yet + adjective’ describes a state that something has not been achieved.

‘has not yet + past participle’ describes an action that has not happened.

  



Difference Between Yet and Still 

‘Yet’ is mainly used with negative sentences to say that something has not happened but we expect it to happen.  ‘Yet’ is also used in question forms to ask if something has been completed.  ‘Still’ is mainly used in affirmative sentences to say that something started in the past and it is true in the present.  

 

We can use ‘still’ in a negative sentence, but ‘yet’ is more common.

 

Compare:

“You still haven’t tidied your room!”

“You haven’t tidied your room yet.”

 

‘Still’ in the negative emphasises frustration over the fact that something has not been completed by the present time.  ‘Yet’ simply means that the task hasn’t been completed, but it will be completed at some time in the present or future.


Already - Meaning and Explanation  

‘Already’ means before or by the present time and we use it when an action is completed earlier than the expected time. We use ‘already’ in affirmative sentences to say that the action was completed before the present time.  ‘Already’ can never be used to talk about the future.  It only refers to the present and the past.

Is already a conjunction

‘Already’ is not a conjunction and it never behaves like one.  We cannot use ‘already’ to make meaning connections between two clauses in the same way that we can use ‘still’ to make meaning connections.  ‘Already’ only ever acts as an adverb.  

Which type of adverb is already 

‘Already’ is an adverb of time.  This means that there is an implied time and a relationship with time.  An adverb of time provides information about when the action happened.  ‘Already’ indicates that the action was completed before the present time.

How to use already in sentence 

‘Already’ is commonly used in the mid-position.

 

It follows the same rules as ‘still:’

 

This means that it comes before one-word verbs:

“She already ran this week.” 

“It already smells better.”

 

Or after auxiliary verbs:

“He has already finished his work.”

“I am already working.”

 

Or after the main verb ‘to be’ (is/are/am/was/were):

“I am already hungry.”

“They are already angry.”

 

With negative sentences that have the main verb ‘to be,’ ‘already’ must come after the ‘to be’ and before ‘not.’  

 

We only use ‘already’ in the negative with adjectives to describe a state of being:

“I am already not hungry.”

“He was already not happy.”

Already at the end of a sentence 

We can use ‘already’ at the end of a sentence.  When we do this, we emphasise the fact that the action has been completed before we expected it to be completed.

 

“You have finished cleaning already!”

“He is travelling already!”

“You have cleaned your room already!”

“You can’t be hungry already! We’ve just eaten.”



Already sentence examples

“I’m already tired.”

“You can’t be tired already! We have just started walking."

“He has finished his work already.”

“We have already watched this movie.”

Difference between yet and already 

We can view ‘yet’ and ‘already’ as opposites.  We use ‘yet’ when we are expecting an action to happen but it hasn’t happened.  We use ‘already’ when we weren’t expecting an action to be completed, but it has been completed.  

 

The key difference between these two words is that ‘yet’ refers to an action that has not happened and ‘already’ refers to an action that has happened.

 

We commonly use ‘yet’ in question forms and only use ‘already’ in a question to express surprise.

 

“Have you started the work yet?”

“Yes, I have completed it already!”

“That was quick.  Let’s start on the next project.”

 

“Is the paint already dry?”

“Are you ready to go already?”

Present perfect - the tense where you use already yet still 

‘Yet’ and ‘already’ are commonly used with the present perfect tense.  The present perfect tense (subject + have/has + past participle) is used to talk about a past action and its relationship with the present.

 

“I’m not hungry now.  I have already eaten.”

“He hasn’t eaten yet.  He is very hungry”

 

Both of these sentences have a relationship with ‘now’ without indicating the exact time the action happened.  The present situation is ‘I’m not hungry’ because I ate recently.  The past action of eating has a present result. 

 

And when we use ‘yet,’ we are saying that an action should have happened in the past but it hasn’t and we are waiting for it to happen.  The result in the present is that ‘he is very hungry.’ 

Sentences with  Still, Yet and Already

Affirmative:

“Sarah and Sally are still friends.  They have been friends since highschool.”

“I still don’t believe it!”

 

“They have yet to have an argument.”

“We have yet to meet your husband.”

 

“We have already finished our dinner.”

“They have started running already.”

 

Negative:

“They’re still not here!”

“We still haven’t arrived home.”

 

“You haven’t been to the shops yet.”

“I haven’t washed the dog yet.”

 

“He is already not pleased.”

 

Interrogative:

 

“Can we still be friends?”

“Are you finished yet?”

“How have you finished already?”

 

Can I use yet and still in a sentence?

It is possible to use ‘yet’ and ‘still’ in one sentence but only when ‘still’ is used in the negative.  We usually use this structure when we asked someone to do something in the past and they still have not done it.  This structure emphasizes the fact that the speaker is expecting and wanting something to happen and is becoming impatient.

 

Examples:

 

Correct: They still haven’t made their beds yet!

Incorrect: They still have made their beds yet.

 

Is yet still correct English?

 ‘Yet still’ is correct in English.  When we use ‘yet still,’ ‘yet’ functions as a conjunction (not an adverb).  It has the same meaning as ‘but still.’  ‘Yet’ means ‘but’ or ‘nevertheless’ when we use it as a conjunction.  ‘Still’ remains an adverb, but is an adverb that we can use to make meaning connections between two classes.

 

Example:

“It was very cold, yet still we had fun.”