So this is why I get impatient with grammar nazis (comma solidarity Alice!) He backed right out in front of me, and I … And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. But for the other six conjunctions, you would not normally use a comma. At school, we were taught you should never, ever, under any circumstances start a sentence with a conjunction. So, if it’s improper to start a sentence with the words “and” or “but” then why do so many prolific, notable writers do it? | Topcontent grammar questions. Can you already feel the weight lifted? He started a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. It might seem obvious – a conjunction connects two thoughts or ideas. It’s the freedom that comes with finding out a constraint you’ve worked around for years is no longer an issue. … Different types of writing call for different approaches. 3 12. slrlus. But, maybe you really feel like one should go there. There is a widespread belief—one with no historical or grammatical foundation—that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but or so. Often so is used in a similar way as the last example, as a conjunction, but placed at the start of a sentence; The puppy was cute. If you remove your conjunction and you suddenly have a sentence fragment that doesn’t seem to make sense, then you need to rework your wording. If you have, then you can understand exactly what these teachers were trying to avoid. Does it seem OK to start a sentence this way? These style guides can dictate anything from whether to hyphenate underachiever to whether to treat data as singular or plural to, yes, whether or not you can begin a sentence with a conjunction. When Should You Follow the Old “English Class Rule”? Here, a subordinate clause headed by with ends rather than begins the sentence. However, it is slightly informal. Plus, Grammar Girl—whom I trust implicitly—says basically every modern grammar book and style guide agree that it’s fine. But we had to go somewhere else to get them. This is just another case of a few people creating a problem for the rest of us. What should you not do, though? If you’re one of many who has been avoiding using “and” or “but” to start a sentence, don’t hold back! …We were driving northbound on Madison, and we turn left. A grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package. When you exercise your new writing muscles and use conjunctions to start sentences, make certain you do not put a comma immediately after the conjunction. So I’m just going to drop this little sentence here—with a comma!—to see what she does. You’re not alone. As do bloggers, journalists, and copywriters. Your write-up was very helpful. Usually, nothing—but especially at work, starting off a sentence this way can make you sound weak. The rule of thumb is no more than three complete sentences in one. you can not put the word AND after it. So think about your follow through, is ultimately the take away here. keywords. Thank you for taking the time. He started a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. If you’ve already got years of practice avoiding starting your sentence with one of these words, then it might take some retraining to find yourself starting a sentence this way. Abstinence vs. moderation, if you will. Almost all modern grammar guides agree that it is OK to start a sentence with 'and' or 'but.' In case you need a little grammar brush-up sesh, a conjunction is a word that connects phrases or clauses. Since teachers didn’t think they could trust some students to be more creative in telling their stories, they restricted everyone. It’s something that still causes heated debate. So, I picked it up. TAGS: writing in education. The use of “and” or “but” at the start of a sentence sometimes brings a sense of informality. And there is: It is to be noted or it should be noted that blah blah blah. writing style. There is "of note", meaning famous: painters of note. It is perfectly acceptable to start sentences with the conjunctions and and but. 8 Yesterday , when I was digging in it, I found a box full of gold and jewels. And it scared the guy so much, he jumped nearly ten feet in the air!”. As written, it sounds conversational and casual. Should you begin a sentence with ‘therefore’? What are simple, compound, and complex sentences? There are seven coordinating conjunctions: However, the ones we were specifically taught to avoid starting a sentence with are “and” and “but.” The good news is, you can rest easy knowing that there is no true grammar rule that says you can’t ever start a sentence with one of these conjunctions. 2 Before: One hundred fifty-two wasps live in my garage. “Contrary to what your high school English teacher told you, there’s no reason not to begin a sentence with but or and; in fact, these words often make a sentence more forceful and graceful. You should not go crazy tossing commas after these conjunctions when you use them at the start of the sentence. I come upon your article - what a relief that was! Consequently, I decided to research the subject, and bingo! Many people were taught at school that you shouldn’t begin a sentence with either of these two words. Breathe Easy Knowing You’re Not the Only Misled Student, Improve Your English Grammar With These Sites. A company can adopt a standardized approach or an internal models approach, with the former generally leading to much higher capital charges and the latter requiring regulatory approval. You can put it after a comma but you can not start a sentence with it. She is a former newspaper journalist and author of the Foster Parent Diary Series for the New York Times. If formality is your goal, choose more formal language. It has been so for centuries, and even the most conservative grammarians have followed this practice. The exception, in my opinion, is with the word “so.” I like a little comma action when I start a sentence with “so.” And this guy at Just Publishing Advice agrees with me: For me, the word so at the beginning of a sentence is a conjunctive adverb like therefore. The real question is one of style. It’s a rule beloved by schoolteachers: you can’t start a sentence with and or but. 2. It’s Fine to Start a Sentence with a Coordinating Conjunction. What is Passive Voice and How Do I Make It Active? They do not have the same meaning, and of note in the sense of famous is not at the beginning. You can easily start a sentence with and, so long that it is a simple sentence inversion technique where "and" is heading a dependent clause, though it usually shouldn't, except in select cases. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. You can start it after a period, but it's very bad grammer. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. Most of us were taught this rule in school – and we followed it with every writing assessment, research paper, and book report we ever wrote. Why Were We All Taught a Rule that Doesn’t Exist? But could we in fact have ditched it, along with that uniform shirt on which everyone scrawled their goodbyes on the last day of school? In most business writing – especially digital marketing copy like blog posts, emails, and social media posts – you shouldn’t stress using “and” or “but” to start your sentence. The answer is simple: Yes. adverbs. Regardless of your own style leanings, you're expected to follow the dictates of that style guide. What are Phonemes, Graphemes, and Digraphs? In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. It’s okay now and it has been okay as long as humans have been writing. It’s been years now since teachers started drumming into students that they should never – ever – start their sentence with the words “and” or “but.” If you’re one of likely millions who was taught this lie during your schooldays, don’t feel bad. It’s also one of the few rules of grammar many people remember actually being mentioned at school. It is looked upon by some as informal. The OED gives examples ranging from the 10th to the 19th c.; the Bible is full of them. As a simple sentence, though, it is grammatically incorrect. In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. Personal Writing. He started a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. Only when it's after a comma. Yes, you can! After all, there is a time and place for everything, right? But reading it is an entirely different experience. For example, the Chicago Manual of Style says this about it: There is a widespread belief—one with no historical or grammatical foundation—that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but or so. Starting with so. You can start a sentence with about, but you have to put your phrase first, and this can sometimes give the sentence a combative tone.This may or may not be what you want. (You may have been told that you can’t start a sentence with and or but. There’s no such rule – and never has been.) Sometimes it’s more impactful to be so precise and direct. First, let’s take a quick jump down memory lane to those Schoolhouse Rock! You should never start a sentence with the words “and” or “but” – never. The overuse of “and” and “but” in spoken English is likely the main reason our teachers forbid us from starting a sentence with them in our writing! I certainly was. Almost any sentence that starts with “and” loses nothing if you takes the “and” out. We are so glad that you found it helpful! I faithfully learned the rule. No matter what the word is, you never want to start too many consecutive sentences with the same word. “And” and “but” are called coordinating conjunctions and are a part of a much longer list of words. While it is acceptable to use such conjunctions to start a sentence, you should still use them carefully and … When possible, avoid such awkwardness by adding an introductory word or phrase to your sentence or rewriting the sentence altogether so that the number doesn’t appear at the beginning. In fact, someone else who doesn’t already know the truth might think you’re the rebel for being so daring in the first place! As a staff writer for The Marijuana Times she educates the masses on medical cannabis, legalization and activism efforts. So, I missed the 5:26 pm train, and then 5:55 pm, but finally made the 6:25 pm train. The supposed rule is without foundation in grammar, logic, or art.’ But most of us have been taught at some point that this is wrong. tapes you watched when the substitute teacher didn’t know the subject. And while we were on the beach, we saw lots of seagulls and other birds. Not true! And why I think they go overboard too much. How Passive Voice Turns People Into Criminals. You will be liberated! 3. Professional writers have always started sentences with those words. 3 14. And then, we come to using so at the start of a sentence. ‘There is a persistent belief that it is improper to begin a sentence with and, but this prohibition has been cheerfully ignored by standard authors from Anglo-Saxon times onwards.’ RW Burchfield, New Fowler’s Modern English Usage ‘A prejudice lingers from the days of schoolmarmish rhetoric that a sentence should never begin with and. Many of us were following a grammar rule that doesn’t exist – and probably got irrationally mad that editors missed such a common mistake again and again. Perhaps this means making your two sentences one – using “and” or “but” with a comma, rather than a period. That rules out starting sentences with either \'and\' or \'but\' when writing. I live for the day we can finally acknowledge its and it’s are pointless distinctions and should die die die as they only serve to make snooty people feel superior. Learn everything you need to know about grammar. Perhaps at some point the practice of conjunction-sentence-starting was seeming to get out of hand and teachers felt they had to ban the practice altogether. As long as the quote is grammatically correct you can use it. Study the examples above. 1. Firstly, has it ever been wrong to begin a sentence with and or but? Therefore, there I was, stood up and stranded for the second time. However, after so many years, do you remember what the function of a conjunction really is? In your well-penned statement above you only start one sentence with a conjunction (And in either case, good writing is a result of the writer’s judgment.) Many thanks!! In other words, when you see a ( . ) If you start a sentence with a conjunction, make sure you're … Start a new sentence. (I could have used “but” to start that last sentence; "on the other hand" adds variety while also giving a stronger sense of weighing up options.). “And,” “but” and “or” are the three most common, but the English language has seven conjunctions, which you can remember with the acronym FANBOYS: It’s okay to shove any of those right up to the front of a sentence. “There is a widespread belief—one with no historical or grammatical foundation—that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but or so. Meghan is Lifehacker's Parenting Editor. And, but, and or are the three most common members of a group of words known as coordinating conjunctions. If that was drilled into your head at some point during your elementary school English lessons, then you’re not alone. You should also take into consideration what you are writing. Of course. This means it has a clearly defined subject and verb. But they weren’t as good as the ones we were going to get.”, “My friend and I went to the beach yesterday. Julia Granowicz-Johnson is a freelance writer from Florida and has been selling her words for a living since 2014. It’s one thing to verbally hear a story told in this fashion. Drop us a line or let's stay in touch via : Subscribe for writing hacks, special offers and free stuff. Start a Sentence with Any Conjunction Have we finally put that myth to rest? And that was the end of him. That it is a solecism to begin a sentence with and is a faintly lingering superstition. And I saw a car in a driveway, and it started to move, and it didn’t stop. If there is a parenthetical phrase or clause after the conjunction, there might coincidentally be a comma there, but that comma is not due to the conjunction. Most of this stuff is more fluid than immutable laws of the natural universe that grammar nazis want you to believe. How to Write Dialogue in a Narrative Paragraph, 7 Grammar Rules Your Editor Wants You to Know, The Perfect Grammar Cheat Sheet [infographic]. Starting a sentence with an introductory phrase that begins with a preposition and ending a sentence with a stranded preposition can be grammatically correct. The bottom line is though, it’s never truly off limits. Today, I am here to set you free from one of the shibboleths of grammar. Summary: You can start a sentence with a conjunction, and you should not put a comma after the conjunction. And, you would be wrong. 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