Tag Archives: but

Top 10 grammar myths: you can’t start a sentence with And or But

Many fine writers, including Shakespeare, Blake, Tennyson and Kipling, have used And or But at the beginning of sentences. Here’s an extract from Blake’s famous hymn, ‘Jerusalem’.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

Why have so many people had it drummed into them that starting a sentence with And or But is wrong? It is probably because of a belief that conjunctions join elements within sentences, not connect sentences. However, when used at the beginning of a sentence, And and But are conjuncts, rather than conjunctions.

What’s the difference? Both are joining words that relate ideas to each other, but conjuncts, unlike conjunctions, can be moved to different parts of a sentence because they are not connecting grammatical parts.

Having stated the case for And or But, I probably wouldn’t start sentences with these words in formal writing. And and But work better at the beginning of sentences in informal, conversational writing.

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Hated words: got, but, that and which

By Mary Morel Three words that many people hate are: got, but and that. Got I have never understood why got receives such bad press. I agree you can often use more specific words to replace it: I got a book out of the library. I borrowed a book from the library. But it is aContinue Reading

But and however

By Mary Morel But and however are often used interchangeably to mean ‘yet’, but they are punctuated differently because however in this context is a conjunctive adverb, (also known as an adverbial conjunct) not a conjunction. Jim lost a fortune gambling, but he still lives in a mansion. Jim lost a fortune gambling; however, heContinue Reading


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