1. TenderHeart
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    TenderHeart Member

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    Question about AND/BUT/OR

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by TenderHeart, May 23, 2008.

    I was under the impression that you should never start a sentence with a conjunction. Yet I have seen quite a few people using them as the first word in their sentence.

    I was the only one pointing it out in reviews, so I am now wondering if I am the one that is incorrect.

    Thanks

    BTW the thread on comma placement should be a sticky thread. It helped me a lot.
     
  2. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    It was a rule that was taught many years ago by some English teachers, but these days it's generally accepted that to do so is okay, and to be honest, it always was. It's worth noting that those who taught it years ago could not have been widely read, as it crops up a lot in very old texts, including Seventeenth Century translations of the Bible 'And so it came to pass etc...', so it's hardly a new innovation.

    Al
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Beginning a sentence with a preposition is technically a poorly formed sentence. But not every sentence must be, or even should be, well-formed, for your writing to have impact.

    Impact! It's what brings writing to life, and life to writing.

    Break rules, but know why you are breaking them. :)
     
  4. TenderHeart
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    TenderHeart Member

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    Thanks that clears it up. The reason I had the impression that it was wrong was that I had a college prof. who totally slammed a paper I wrote because I had two sentences that started with AND. In the world of sarcasm his turned out to be quite cutting and it scarred me from using them to start a sentence forever.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Scholarly papers tend to follow a more rigid standard than fiction, especially when formal use of spelling, puctuation, and grammar are specific criteria in grading.

    That's not a bad thing, either. It ensures that you are sufficiently familiar with formal grammar that you can stick to it at need. Additionally, excessive use of "ill-formed" sentences becomes annoying, so you need to at least be aware of such constructs.

    At least one school I am all too familiar with has an automated style and grammar checker used by both students and instructors for papers. Not all the cases it flags are legitimate errors, either, but it saves the instructors time during grading. Since they use it, the students know it is wise to do the same; and right or wrong, to "correct" anything it flags.
     
  6. silverfrost
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    silverfrost Member

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    The same thing happened to me recently. I write the occasional sentence beginning with a conjunction in fiction. Although I'm used to writing papers for school, that habit somehow spilled into a final paper for class... Yikes. I definitely learned my lesson after reading the teacher's comments. ;)
     
  7. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    It's worth also noting that it is considered acceptable in modern journalism, where slang, idioms and journalese are often also tools of the trade. I used to be a writer for the UK's daily national newspaper, 'The Guardian', which in case you are not familiar with it, is one of the more highbrow papers in the UK, with a middle-to-left political stance and much patronage of the arts and other snooty stuff. Although it also used to have the unenviable reputation of being noted for typos in the days when it was not photo-electronically produced, earning it the unfavourable nicknames of 'The Grauniad' and the 'The Nardiaug'. So it wasn't exclusively considered the pinnacle of writing excellence a few years ago, that might be applied to it today by some.

    Al
     

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