1. Drunkugly
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    Drunkugly Member

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    Starting a sentence with but

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Drunkugly, Jun 24, 2013.

    So I've found some great threads here on adverbs and participles that have made my editing process far more efficient. I'm interested in seeing the response to this one. It seems a fairly common practice to start a sentence with but. I'm not entirely clear on the general rule though. Starting a question with but seems straight forwards, but what would be the justification for a normal sentence? As opposed to using a comma and connecting it to a previous sentence.
     
  2. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    It's fine. Some of my favorite authors do it.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I can think of plenty.

    In dialogue:

    "I need you to take apart the carburator," said Craig from beneath the car.

    "But I don't know how," replied Carl.

    As a more dramatic spacer between action and consequence:

    They were to have dismantled their nuclear stockpile, but that's not what happened.

    They were to have dismantled their nuclear stockpile. But that's not what happened.
     
  4. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    But of course you can do it.



    It provides more space between the thought that came right before it.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I just did a word search in my MS to see how often I myself use but to head a sentence, and the result seems to be that I do not personally favor that construction. Strangely, though, It would seem I do not hold the same prejudice toward heading a sentence with and, also a conjunction.
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    In fiction, it's done all the time, both in the narrative and in dialogue. But I wouldn't do it in essays, formal letters, etc.
     

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