There is a decades old debate over whether it is appropriate to start a sentence with a conjunction (and, because, or).Most people, myself included, learned in school that it’s not the way to do things. But over my years of schooling that followed, I realized that it’s often acceptable to start a sentence with a conjunction as long as it makes sense. For example:
Acceptable: Because she made me a cake, I had to break my diet.
Unacceptable: I had to break my diet. Because she made me a cake.
In addition to being an unacceptable way to begin a sentence with a conjunction, the second example is also simply incorrect; the first sentence is a complete sentence whereas the second is just a clause.
Why do people think it’s incorrect to start with a conjunction?
Many people think this is incorrect because you use a conjunction to connect clauses. Therefore, any sentence that begins with one wouldn’t be a complete, proper sentence. But as seen above, that is not always the case.
When is it not acceptable to start a sentence with a conjunction?
It is not acceptable to start a sentence with a conjunction when doing so would create an incomplete sentence, create confusion, or when it is unnecessary to do so. For example, consider these sentences: “I love cake. And I also love ice cream.” It is unnecessary to separate the sentences when one could simply say, “I love cake and ice cream.”
Many grammar experts, including Grammarly, also declare that it is unwise to start a sentence with a conjunction in formal writing.
However, Grammarist.com stated, “That there is some sort of rule against sentence-beginning conjunctions is an old myth that never seems to go away despite the fact that it is not at all borne out in the writing of actual English speakers.”
As usual, this is not a hard and fast rule. In most cases, you can choose whether or not to use conjunctions to start sentences. For more information on the different types of conjunctions, check out Towson University’s conjunctions page.
Also be sure to check out last week’s post about passive voice and come back next week to learn about affect vs. effect. And as always, if you need help with content writing, give us a call at 888-521-3880.