Myth Buster: Never Start a Sentence with “And” or “But”

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I did a video post on this some time ago, but a reply to an article I recently shared on Facebook got me thinking. One of our faithful fans wrote:

When I was in school, beginning a sentence with a conjunction was a big no-no!

I don’t know when she went to school, but this was also true for me going to school in the late 70s to early 80s. But let me be clear: This isn’t a rule that has suddenly changed in recent decades. It was never really a rule! At least not a rule respectable writers, editors, and publishers followed.

If I had time, I could produce lots of evidence to support this assertion, but I think it suffices that God agrees with me. Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating a bit, but certainly the Bible gives numerous examples of sentences that begin with and and but:

But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant… Mark 10:43

 

But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1John 2:11

 

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matt 6:30

This is just a quick handful; there are literally hundreds of examples to choose from.

Of course, this is a 20th Century translation (ESV). What about earlier versions? Maybe these verses just reflect a change in grammar standards. Check out the King James Version, published in 1611. I won’t post the whole passage, but read for yourself the very first chapter — Genesis 1. By my calculations, the only sentence that doesn’t begin with and in that chapter is the first one: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” The next 32 sentences all begin with and!

That’s enough evidence for me. I sure wish I had known this back when I was in school. When a teacher corrected me for starting a sentence with and, I could have said, “So, you are saying the Bible is grammatically incorrect?”

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the video I did last year:

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About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian Wasko

Brian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.

View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. CFloyd
    CFloyd02-29-2012

    Well, that certainly is an urban myth. But everyone knows you NEVER start a sentence with because: that’s not myth; that’s fact!

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