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Beginning sentences with conjunctions.

16 Years Ago

I was doing a review on this week’s featured writing and noticed two paragraphs with the opening sentences…

>And that could only leave the Brethren.


>But it was Stefan, the regents younger son,

When I was taught English, bearing in mind I refer to UK English, and some thirty years ago, it was considered a crime punishable by death (almost) to begin a sentence with a conjunction… “and” or “but.”  However, it was acceptable for us to use such words as...umm... "However" or "Therefore" 
I would be interested to hear the views of other (younger?) writers, especially those from US. 

If anyone has a copy of  “The Chicago Manual of Style” have a look at what they say.  I don’t have a copy but I have read the comment.

[no subject]

16 Years Ago


"You must not start a sentence with a conjunction" has been the mantra of many an exasperated English teacher, especially since the oiks started getting state education. Any pupil brave, daft or naive enough to raise a hand and ask "Why?" would probably have received some Kafkaesque explanation along the lines of "Because it is said."

So now we're all grown up, we'll ask again – why? The honest answer is that there is no reason. It's just an arbitrary rule that's been passed through the ages. But all language is arbitrary, isn't it? Words and letters are but abstract concepts, the understanding of which can only come through the education of rules.

As usual with these issues, the argument is between the way English is used and the way it is "supposed to be". Sometimes a full stop is required to drive home a sentence or give a meaningful pause. And an afterthought like this one gets more impact when it's a sentence rather than a conjoined clause. So when someone tells you not to start a sentence with a conjunction, say: "But I've already done it."

It may not be grammatically correct, but most people today pay no heed to grammar. They write the way they see fit, the way they think it makes most sense in. So no, you must not start  a sentence with a conjunction, if you wish to be grammaticlaly correct. The correct way to put it would be put a comma on the afore sentence, and de-capitalize the first letter. Then your sentence will be a conjunction sentence.

[no subject]

16 Years Ago

Here's a thought from the book Take Command of Your Writing: Page 30-   "For years it was thought unacceptable to start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. This is no longer the case. You can occasionally use a coordinating conjunction at the beginning of a sentence either for special emphasis or to provide a smoother transition in a series of sentences. However, make sure there is a logical connection between the sentences, and use this technique in moderation so it does not become distracting to your readers."

Examples: We'll let it go this time. But if we ever catch you shoplifting again, I'll call the police.
                       Is there a chance there's anyone alive under all that rubble? Or is this just going to be a body recovery operation?
      I'm guessing you meant coordinating conjunctions- and, but,                 for, nor,                 or, so,                 and yet-when you raised this question.
      I believe that teachers instructed students to avoid the use of coordinating conjunctions at the beginning of sentences because often a sentence beginning with a conjunction turns into a fragment. For proof of this, check the work of writers who frequently employ coordinating conjunctions at the beginning of sentences. Are those sentences complete? Often it just seems lazy to start with a conjunction. Lazy but not wrong if certain guidelines are followed.
  • Be sure that a main clause follows the coordinating conjunction.
  • Do not use a coordinating conjunction to begin every sentence.                         Use this option only when it makes the flow of your ideas more effective.
  • Do not use a comma after the coordinating conjunction unless an interrupter immediately follows that conjunction.                         Coordinating conjunctions are not transitional expressions like                         for example or first of all. You will rarely use punctuation                         after them.
So, in my opinion, conjunctions at the beginnings of sentences can be useful to one's writing, but they can be detrimental, too, if abused. And I'll continue to use them until some friends get together, sit me down, and tell me I have a problem. Maybe then I'll think about quitting.


[no subject]

16 Years Ago

The use of conjunctions at the beginning of paragraphs was a style that I thought was prohibited until I studied a diploma course with the Open University ( UK ) on theology.  Beforehand I would've considered it bad grammar.

Their inclusion in my writing occurs for the following reasons:

  • Most of my work posted on Writer's Cafe has only been roughly edited and is far from polished
  • I use them as landmarks to show a shift in the narrator's thoughts about what is happening and to draw attention to contrasting or similar events occuring that are relevant to the plot or characters
  • To keep some sentences short for dramatic effect - I like reading material aloud

Regardless of the quality of your grammar never let a good story be constrained by perfect English, unless of course you are submitting coursework.