Thursday, May 6, 2010

Can you start a sentence with And, Yet, or But?

The coordinating conjunctions (and, yet, but, for, so, or, nor) are supposed to join things. But can they join sentences? That question has been contended for decades. Bryan Garner, however, in the Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style, says that the belief that a conjunction cannot start a sentence is a “rank superstition.”  And The Gregg Reference Manual says nothing about any rule against using conjunctions to start sentences, but merely warns against overusing this technique.
So starting a sentence with a conjunction is not a problem. In fact, you can even start a paragraph with one.
The only remaining question is whether to use a comma after the conjunction. The answer is no. But sometimes the conjunction may be followed by a truly parenthetical element surrounded by commas, coincidentally making a comma necessary after the conjunction. If you are putting a comma after the conjunction, make sure the phrase or clause after the comma is truly parenthetical.
Check the comma used in these sentences:

The shoes are comfortable despite the hole in the heel and the scuffed toes. But when it rains, my socks get wet. (“when it rains” cannot be surrounded by commas, because it is essential to the meaning of the sentence: the socks get wet only when it rains.)


The shoes are comfortable and you may still love them. But, as your mom says, they should be replaced. (“As your mom says” is a nonessential independent comment. If you removed it from the sentence, the meaning would not change. The shoes should still be replaced whether your mom says so or not. The two commas indicate that it is nonessential.)

In sentence 2, the comma after the conjunction but is there because of the parenthetical clause. If that clause were not there or were not parenthetical, there would be no comma.
Summary: You can start a sentence with a conjunction, and you should not put a comma after the conjunction. 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.

22 comments:

av84fun said...

While starting a sentence with the word "so" may not necessarily be improper, doing so can be stuffy, trendy and quite literally a waste of time and breath.

"So" can mean "therefore" as in...Guns can be dangerous. So, don't use them.

But the trendy, pseudo-intellectuals would say..."So, guns are dangerous. Don't use them."

What EXACTLY does the word so translate to in the above sentence?

It translates to nothing and therefore should be avoided.

Tom Beek said...

The word "so," that begins a sentence in this article means, "therefore." It is a rhetorically cogent word as it is used here. Bravo!

Sergio Drutas said...

When use we "yet" at the begining of a sentece? May somebody explain me how to use it?

Unknown said...

You started a paragraph with SO!!! Love it!!

Unknown said...

You started your paragraph with SO!!! Love it!!!

Mr. Rob said...

I wish my college professors knew about this. But I suppose college is no longer about learning.

Jack Morgan said...

An unbelievable blog. This blog will indisputably be definitely recommended to my friends as well.Grammarly review

Jennifer Slocum said...

Conjunction are used to join 2 sentences. We can't start sentence with conjunction according to grammar rules. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive post. sentence grammar check

Gramlee said...

American Psychological Association (APA) uses a parenthetical author-date format to cite sources in the text and a corresponding list of references placed at the end of the body of the paper. The APA manual offers clear examples of how to cite virtually any source, from journal articles and books to legal references and online videos.

APA editor

Joseph Harrison said...

Editing your wording and the paragraphs with those of the sentences and styles will give you and idea of completing those of the documents and editing with them. apa editing services

Silvia Jacinto said...

The mind is a great philosopher. And life is not a philosophy, life is a reality. And philosophy is an escape from reality; philosophy means thinking. Life is, there is no question of thought. You can simply jump into it. You can simply experience it. Visit my site for more information.Thank you.

n8fan.net

www.n8fan.net

Raj Solanki said...

Doctoral Students who cannot write dissertation properly by self can hire APA Editing Service to make the job easier.

Kelli Php said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelli Php said...

This is actually somewhat confusing as to where to put comma while starting a sentence with conjunction and there arises the need of an expert editor: http://www.apadissertationeditors.com/

Romilda Gareth said...

English language is really not among the easiest languages in the world, even for native speakers. That's why there is a demand and ask for English grammar check software, a technology that has evenhandedly new and getting more sophisticated day in and day out. See more online sentence checker

Curtis Albert said...

We have been discussing with a colleague on the same issue and coming across this post has acted to end the debate. US English Essay Writing Help. I also believe that conjunctions can be used effectively at the start of a sentence. Thanks for sharing. Harvard Capstone Editing Help

Rohit Kaushik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rohit Kaushik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MD SHAHA JALAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Assignment Help said...

Awesome blog.Thanks for share.

Buy Assignment
Essay Writing And Editing Services

Richard C. Lambert said...

a new version contains a new set of features. We wish also thank all those active Radiator users who have given us feedback and ideas for new features. SEO

Eden Blain said...

A useful and effective way of emphasizing a point. UK Dissertation Help