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Is the following correct German, or could it be improved?

"Tugend hat er vielleicht, aber doch keine Klugheit."

(It's a pun on the name of a British politician. The intended meaning is "He may be virtuous, but he is not wise." I'm not sure if doch is being used correctly in this context.)

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    Is it a sentence you wrote or a sentence you found? If it's a sentence you found that's in a longer context, "doch" could also be a modal particle refering to that context.
    – HalvarF
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 8:28
  • It's a sentence I wrote, so there is no wider context. I first thought of writing "aber sicher.." or aber bestimmt" which correspond to the English "certainly", but then "doch" occurred to me and I felt it sounded more idiomatic, although I was not sure if it was correct or not
    – Up4itt
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 15:38
  • Do you mean Lord Tugendhat?
    – Paul Frost
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 15:32

4 Answers 4

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Yes, it is correct German.
In writing, either "aber" or "doch" would be sufficient, both meaning "but"; combined they enhance each other.
The combination is more common when spoken, because intonation and stress can modify how the speaker wants the listener to think about the character so described.
The only variant that would not be idiomatic is "doch aber keine Klugheit"
Btw, "Weisheit" is also usable here, as closer related to "Tugend"

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As Bobby J has said either "aber" or "doch" would suffice to cover the meaning of "but". But in combination it's not just "he's A, but not B" (neutral). But rather "He's A but he's definitely not B what were you even thinking to suggest that". So while it gets the message across, it might have more punch to it, then you'd expect if you'd just assume it means "but".

"doch aber" isn't 100% impossible, but would sound really old-fashioned.

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In solchen Fällen greift man (nicht ausschließlich) zu jedoch:

Tugend hat er vielleicht, jedoch keine Klugheit.

Ob Weisheit besser passt ist eine andere Frage. Auch ich würde den Satz mit aber doch als um die 100 Jahre alt einschätzen.

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    This answer does not deserve to be downvoted. Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 15:34
  • @KritikerderElche might be related to this post on meta Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 16:58
  • To me, "jedoch" sounds rather more formal (higher register) than "aber doch". The former I'd expect in a written text or formal speech, the latter in a pun like the one mentioned in the question.
    – Hulk
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 11:50
  • Also it's perhaps something regional, but I don't perceive the phrase using "aber doch" as outdated in any way.
    – Hulk
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 11:56
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Reading your sentence, I expected it to be from some book around 1900, because of the antiquated “doch”. If you want to pretend the sentence is quite old, it’s fine, but today you wouldn’t write it like that.

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  • I am humbled by the depth of knowledge and Sprachgefühl, shared so generously. Most interesting that “aber doch” has been modernized to “jedoch”. Anyway I had already sent “Tugend hat er vielleicht, aber doch keine Weisheit” to my English friends, who would have doubtless used Google Translate to produce “He may have virtue, but no wisdom,” which is all they need to know. I think the distinction between “Klugheit” and “Weisheit” perhaps corresponds to the distinction in English between “prudence” and “wisdom”.
    – Up4itt
    Commented Aug 8, 2022 at 5:37

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