Should you start a sentence with “and”?

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Have you ever been told you shouldn’t start a sentence with the word “and”? Why is this?

A look around the internet quickly shows that many journalists don’t follow this advice. This match report on BBC Sport, for example, has paragraphs beginning with both “and” and “but”.

The root of the argument comes from the maxim that you shouldn’t begin a sentence with a conjunction, including the following words:

– and
– but
– or
– yet
– so
– because (although some grammarians argue this is a preposition)

At Words of Worth, we encourage our writers not to begin sentences with conjunctions. We acknowledge it can be done well, but it can also be done badly, getting in the way of our aim to write clearly and concisely. It also helps to maintain a similar tone of voice across larger projects.

Perhaps the main issue with this style of writing is that it can end up splitting one perfectly good sentence into two grammatically iffy ones, as in these examples.

“I saw the film yesterday. And I liked it a lot.”

“The man was asked to leave. But he wouldn’t.”

“I went to the shop but it was closed. So I went home.”

The second sentence in each of these phrases is what’s known as a fragment. It doesn’t work as a standalone sentence as it refers back to the one before it. Grammatically, it’s therefore better to separate them with a comma.

In conclusion, while a skilled writer might be tempted to start sentences with “and” and other prepositions, it’s generally a safer bet to avoid it in formal and professional writing.