Monday, October 9, 2006

conjunctions to start a sentence?

There is no rule against beginning a sentence with a coordinating conjunction.
--Bryan Garner, The Redbook:  "[F]orget the idea that a conjunction should never start a sentence. Any writer can benefit from unlearning such baseless nonsense."
--Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage: "A prejudice lingers from the days of schoolmarmish rhetoric that a sentence should never begin with 'and.'  The supposed rule is without foundation in grammar, logic, or art."
--Jacques Barzun, Simple and Direct:  "It is plain from American and English literature that the most exacting writers use them ['and' and 'but'] without hesitation as normal openers."
--Joseph Williams, Style: Ten Lesson in Clarity and Grace:  He calls the supposed rule "folklore."
--Theodore Bernstein, Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins: [after noting the superstition against starting a sentence with "and" or "but"] "Nothing need be said about 'for,' 'nevertheless,' 'nor,' 'still,' and 'yet' as sentence starters because no one has thought (yet?) of raising any taboo against them. The fact that such taboos do exist should in itself suggest how idle are the ones conjured up against almost parallel words."
--Yours truly, in Lifting the Fog of Legalese: "Listen to how you talk. 'But' is far more common and more deft than 'however' to show contrast at the beginning of a sentence."
For more:
- Professor Joe Kimble, Thomas M. Cooley Law School

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