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  1. #1
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Beginning a sentence with but/however

    I had already heard some grammarians state in formal English sentences should never begin with "but" or "and".

    Then I tried to police myself on that. Regarding "and" everything went fine; I was able to do the job easily.
    However, regarding "but" things were not that easy until I realized that whenever I wanted to start a sentence with "but" I could use "however" (just like in the beginning of very sentence you are reading now).

    Now I have just read it is not good to start a sentence with "however" because it is a conjunction and conjunctions do not start sentences.

    What shall I do now ???
    I think I'll get crazy.

    By the way, I think that "then" used in the third line above used to begin the sentence "Then I tried ... " is also prohibited!

  2. #2
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Beginning a sentence with but/however

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I heard some grammarians state that in formal English, sentences should never begin with "but" or "and".
    That used to be a rule years ago, but now that rule has been widely discarded. However, it may still be followed in very formal English; I am not sure.


    What shall I do now ??? Use conjunctions to start a sentence when you think it appropriate.
    I think I'll get crazy. You shouldn't!

    2006

  3. #3
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Beginning a sentence with but/however

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I heard some grammarians state that in formal English, sentences should never begin with "but" or "and".
    That used to be a rule years ago, but now that rule has been widely discarded. However, it may still be followed in very formal English; I am not sure.

    What shall I do now ??? Use conjunctions to start a sentence when you think it appropriate.
    I think I'll get crazy. You shouldn't!

    2006
    Thanks for your reply and your kindly corrections, 2006.
    I would like to learn how to write in English in many different ways, including the one you call "very formal English" (OK, I know it will take me a long time to achieve that, but I will try). So I need to practise those old formal rules, but it is really hard. Please forgive my complaing; this is just a kind of an "outburst" (if that word goes well).

  4. #4
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Beginning a sentence with but/however

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Thanks for your reply and your kind corrections, 2006.
    I would like to learn how to write in English in many different ways, including the one you call "very formal English" (OK, I know it will take me a long time to achieve that, but I will try). So I need to practise those old formal rules, but it is really hard. Please forgive my complaing; this is just a kind of an "outburst" (if that word goes well).
    When I said "very formal English" I was thinking about the law and statutes. I don't think you should worry about that very much at all.
    "Very formal English" is a very very small part of English.

  5. #5
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Beginning a sentence with but/however

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    When I said "very formal English" I was thinking about the law and statutes. I don't think you should worry about that very much at all.
    "Very formal English" is a very very small part of English.
    Quote Originally Posted by clevermae View Post
    I think there's no need to concern ourselves with very formal English because I don't think we'd find use for that. Formal English is good enough. The most important non-native English speakers should do is master conversational English as it's the one with useful, daily application.
    Thanks for your kind advices. I do appreciate your opinions.
    However, I think it is important to say that, although I understand your point, I particularly maintain my initial interest. One of the mottos I have adopted for my life is:

    "Learn everything, you will find nothing superfluous." (St. Victor)

  6. #6
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Beginning a sentence with but/however

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I had already heard some grammarians state in formal English sentences should never begin with "but" or "and".

    Then I tried to police myself on that. Regarding "and" everything went fine; I was able to do the job easily.
    However, regarding "but" things were not that easy until I realized that whenever I wanted to start a sentence with "but" I could use "however" (just like in the beginning of very sentence you are reading now).

    Now I have just read it is not good to start a sentence with "however" because it is a conjunction and conjunctions do not start sentences.

    What shall I do now ???
    I think I'll get crazy.

    By the way, I think that "then" used in the third line above used to begin the sentence "Then I tried ... " is also prohibited!
    'However' is actually not a conjunction at all but an adverb and is thus perfectly able to stand at the head of a sentence, although in more elegant style, it will tend to occupy post-subject position (e.g. He, however, was unwilling to help them rather than However, he was unwilling...).

    As for the use of true coordinating conjunctions (and, but, etc.) to begin sentences, it has a lineage dating back to the King James Bible (e.g. And God saw that the light was good, Genesis 1:4), making it rather hard to fault it as some kind of lazy modern trend!

    Simply avoid overuse, and you'll be fine.

  7. #7
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Beginning a sentence with but/however

    (Opening thread)

  8. #8
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Beginning a sentence with but/however

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstract Idea View Post

    What shall I do now ???
    I think I'll get crazy.

    NOT A TEACHER


    Hello, Abstract Idea:

    Please do not go bananas!

    Most usagists (people who write books to tell us what "good" English is) agree: it is fine to occasionally use

    and, but, for, or,
    or nor to start a sentence. (Of course, if your teacher says that it is wrong, do not argue with him/

    her. Just agree, and then just continue to do what you want outside of the classroom.)

    Here are just a few usagists' comments (I put some of their words in bold):

    1."It is rank superstition that this coordinating conjunction cannot properly begin a sentence."

    -- Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern American Usage (1998), pages 39 - 40.

    2."Though using and as a transitional artifice is quite acceptable, you should do so in moderation."

    -- Mr. Garner.

    3. "Used with restraint, [and] can contribute to movement and emphasis. Overused, it can be damaging to both,

    as well as boring for the reader."

    --
    Mr. and Mrs. David Ebbitt, Perrin's Index to English (1977), page 34.

    4. "An initial and is a useful aid to writers as the narrative continues."

    (a) "Tibba still pined and slavered for the school lunches. And little other care hath she."

    (b) "I'm going to swim. And don't you dare watch."

    -- New Fowler's Modern English Usage (1996), pages 52 - 53.

    *****

    Well, I think that you get the idea.

    HAVE A NICE DAY! (And don't be ashamed of starting a sentence with and.)
    Last edited by TheParser; 26-Jul-2012 at 18:13.

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Beginning a sentence with but/however

    For those thinking of using the word ‘usagist’ a search at OneLook: General dictionary sites brought up the message “Sorry, no dictionaries [of the 129 listed] contain the word usagist.”
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  10. #10
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Beginning a sentence with but/however

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    “Sorry, no dictionaries [of the 129 listed] contain the word usagist.”
    I learned this word from Mr. William Safire, who was the language guru at The New York Times for many years.

    I have just googled:

    Definition "usagist."

    I received some interesting results.

    Granted, it is rare, but perhaps we usingenglish members should promote its use.

    Professor Quirk was rather rude (in my opinion) to say that Mr. Henry Fowler was no

    "grammarian." OK, maybe he wasn't. But [beginning of sentence] no one can deny that he was certainly a usagist!

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