"Dad likes tea but does not like juice."
Translation:Папа любит чай, но не любит сок.
I'm struggling with the а versus но thing. I thought а was used for mild contradictions and но was reserved for a higher level of contradiction.
Using the example, see no reason why liking tea would preclude the father from also liking juice. Then the weaker а should work, right? If it has been "he likes juice, but he doesn't like sugar", then a но would make sense since sugar is a main ingredient of juice and therefore liking one without the other would be more contrary.
Here "а" would imply opposing what Dad likes to what Dad does not like. "Папа любит чай, а не любит сок" sounds like "Dad likes tea, and what he does not like is juice". Sounds really awkward. If you want to oppose tea and juice with "а", you can say "Папа любит чай, а сок не любит". I fail to provide any strong theory, but here are some examples for you:
- Папа любит чай, но не любит сок. Dad likes tea, but does not like juice. This is more like talking about dad, what he likes and does not like. This is a very neutral sentence.
- Папа любит чай, но редко его пьёт. Dad likes tea, but rarely drinks it. The subject is the same (папа). There is no juxtaposition (hope I understand this English word right), but rather a contradiction.
- Папа любит сок, но у него аллергия на апельсины. Dad likes juice, but he is allergic to oranges. Again, a contradiction: dad's allergy prevents him from drinking juice that he likes.
- Папа любит чай, а сок не любит. Dad likes tea, but does not like juice. This is about opposing tea to juice in dad's preferences.
- Папа любит чай, а я нет. Dad likes tea, and I don't. "А" is very commonly used for opposing different people's thoughts, preferences, actions, etc. on the same thing.
- Папа любит чай, а я - сок. Dad likes tea, and I like juice. The dash stands for "люблю", just to avoid the redundancy of "любить".
- Папа пьет чай, а я играю на гитаре. Dad is drinking tea, and I am playing guitar. Here, we oppose what Dad and I do at the same time.
"А" and "но" are hardly connected with different level of contradiction. They are just different.
Зато means "although", "however", and it's used to introduce a positive clause after a negative one. Example (provided by Duolingo): "My sister doesn't like chicken, but she cooks it very well." In this case you can use зато: negative sentence - зато - positive sentence. This exercise is the exact opposite.