Starting a sentence with And or But

Some grammar rules (and embarrassing mistakes!) transcend the uniqueness of different regions and style guides. This new International Grammar section by ultimately identifies those rules thus providing a simple, flexible rule-set, respecting the differences between regions and style guides. You can feel free to ask general questions about spelling and grammar. You can also provide example sentences for other members to proofread and inform you of any grammar mistakes.
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Re: Starting a sentence with And or But

Post by Jaime Lync » 04 May 2017, 16:47

I watched the movie, DATo is referring to and I highly recommend it. Now, concerning starting a sentence with and or but. I heard that it was wrong to do so when I was growing up but language is dynamic - the rules are not etched on stone so I think that it is acceptable now. I personally like to start sentences with and or but - especially in poetry . And...

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Post by queeennnkatie » 05 May 2017, 14:05

I have this dilemma too!!!!
I guess it all depends on what type of writing you're doing. I suppose dialogue or other stories it should be okay. But officialy paper work, I wouldn't start a sentence with and or but.
But I guess that's up to you!
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Post by Rebeccaej » 23 May 2017, 19:15

I do it when I'm being loose with grammar. I tend to write really long, complicated sentences, with ridiculous chains of clauses imbedded in clauses. Just slapping a period in and then starting the next sentence with "and" or "but" lets me break the sentence up and gives the reader a chance to breathe, while maintaining the thread of logic I was building.

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Post by Megan Old » 07 Jun 2017, 21:37

I was taught never to start any sentences with a but or an and or basically any conjunction. It's either you use a comma to separate clauses or use a semi-colon. However, it's just so hard not to, especially if you're sentence is too long. It's like either committing this fault or having a run-on sentence.

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Post by Sophie11 » 28 Jul 2017, 06:31

I don't believe i have faced this problem before; but i want to know if we are allowed to begin with them after a semicolon? :wink: :doh:

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Post by Scott » 28 Jul 2017, 12:43

I'm far from a grammar expert, so take what I say here with a grain of salt.

My understanding is that it is not against any grammar rule to start a sentence with the words 'and' or 'but' if the sentence is still a complete sentence, which to be complete would need to be complete even if you left out the 'and' or 'but'. I welcome a citation from an official grammar guide that says otherwise.

Example one

Grammatically Incorrect: I went to the mall. And gym.

Reason: "And gym" is a sentence fragment. Test: "Gym" is not a complete sentence.

Example two

Grammatically Correct: I like ice cream. And I like pizza.

Reason: "And I like pizza" is a complete sentence. Test: "I like pizza" is a full sentence. Keep in mind, writing the sentence(s) as follows would also be correct and generally preferred by most writers and readers: "I like ice cream, and I like pizza."

Example three

Grammatically Incorrect: I like ice cream. And, I like pizza.

Reason: The comma is incorrect.

With all that said, I've heard many teachers or other folks advise against using 'and' or 'but' in certain formal writing. That's not a strict grammar rule. It's a piece of advice that they believe makes your writing in that context better in a broader sense than mere grammatical correctness.

In fiction books and poetry, it is allowed to break grammar rules for some greater purpose, namely in the sense of improving the reader's experience or understanding. For example, in fiction or very informal writing it's often okay to intentionally use a grammatically incorrect sentence fragment like "But no" or "And ice cream".

You could even imagine a fiction writer going wild and writing something like the following: "And. Then. They. Did. It."
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Post by Afuglsan » 28 Jul 2017, 13:10

I think it's an absolute no-no in formal writings. If you're writing informally or as a character would in a story, then I think it's okay.

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Post by frederickmintah » 28 Jul 2017, 13:30

I thought same till recently I was haven my pathway course. I realized that And or But are good conjunctions and can be used to start a sentence in a context. I realized that they (And/But) are mostly used to join phrases,clauses and or sentences together.
So according to my best knowledge, we can use the conjunctions And or But to begin a sentence.

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Post by Brandon101 » 28 Jul 2017, 13:39

I actually noticed that in a book that i'm currently reading and was surprised because I too, had been taught not to use 'and or but' at the beginning of sentences.

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Post by violet-trey19 » 28 Jul 2017, 14:31

Sentence can start with 'but'.Starting a sentence with 'and' is not right.

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Post by Riki » 28 Jul 2017, 17:50

I was never taught this rule because it's not a rule. Even when I write academic papers for college level seminars, I don't get doxxed for beginning with a conjunction. You could argue that conjunctions like 'although' or 'however' are more appropriate for formal writings. But I believe it's the composite of a sentence's structure and syntax that make it appropriate, not it's beginning conjunction alone.

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Post by DennisK » 28 Jul 2017, 21:32

I have had a turbulent relationship with the conjunction, 'so'. I use that word a lot, but I've recently learned that I had been using it incorrectly. At an earlier age, I was told never to use it to begin a sentence, and to always precede it with a semicolon when used within a sentence. I've learned that this advice is not necessarily correct. The word 'so' , like: for, and, nor, but, or, and yet are coordinating conjunctions which should never be used to begin a sentence in formal writing. In narrative writing, I think most of us agree that this rule doesn't always apply. But it seems that there are two other kinds of conjunctions which when used to begin a sentence is quite proper:

Subordinating conjunctions are like long adverbs which describes a condition, a time or a reason. Examples:
Because the house was not properly attached to the foundation, it was lost in the storm.
Before you go outside, please clean the dishes.
If you are late once more, I will dock your pay.

Correlative conjunctions are paired conjunctions that combine subjects within one sentence:
Neither you nor I will bake that cake.
Both you and I will bake that cake.
Not only will I bake that cake, but you will as well.

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Post by bookowlie » 01 Aug 2017, 20:49

Afuglsan wrote:I think it's an absolute no-no in formal writings. If you're writing informally or as a character would in a story, then I think it's okay.
I totally agree. I have always thought this was a big no-no in formal writing. Sure, authors take artistic liberty in books. Still, when authors start sentences with and or but too frequently, it comes across as poor writing. The exception is when this is done in dialogue.
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Post by Abfaniki » 02 Aug 2017, 23:40

stating a sentence with but is allow. there are different style of writing like literature style, theological style etc. I was taught that it is very OK to start a sentence with But in literature.While in theology and is recommended and use alot.
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Post by raikyuu » 11 Aug 2017, 21:45

Most sources say that starting a sentence with a conjunction in informal and semi-formal writing is acceptable. When it comes to the formal usage, there is a debate happening in this issue, whether starting with a conjunction is acceptable or not. This means that there isn't any agreement between writers on what to do. If someone says that it is "inappropriate" to start a conjunction in a professional writing, he/she is referring to his/her own experience and biases.

I read a lot of academic books, and some of them start their sentences with a conjunction. Of course, others don't.
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