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  1. #1
    Tuco is offline Junior Member
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    Default And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    Aw folks,

    It seems all the threads are closed! Can you begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction? I see teachers noting biblical precedence regarding the matter. I guess you are trying to say that God doesn't need an editor so it must be OK.

    Why is it up for discussion these days if reputable writing and precedence is on your side?
    Has there never been a reputable writer who has let their grammar lapse?

    For anyone wanting to know why it is improper grammar to begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, do you get the feeling that your real question isn't being answered? Do you feel like the member Abstract Idea who kept asking the same question on the thread:

    usingenglish.com/forum/general-language-discussions/112265-beginning-sentence-but-however.html

    and never got the answer regarding "very formal English" that he was looking for? Do you know why a speaker of ESL would be so interested in learning "very formal English?" The reason is because he is looking for a rule that he knows is there, but people keep telling him otherwise. He's trying to figure out, as Pink Floyd put it, "What's uh, the deal?"

    If you have found answers on this thread and still want to know why it is improper to begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, purely grammatically speaking, take a look at the research I did. I link you to a mind map of different approaches to the question. at each link, you'll see a brief excerpt to text in my manuscript. The manuscript offers much more context. The mind map was strictly for my own use so I could visualize which sources answered in a particular way.

    By the way, you can also find an outdated updated manuscript which puts all my notes from the mind map in context.

    Link deleted - see post #5
    Last edited by Tuco; 29-Jul-2012 at 21:48. Reason: Link deleted

  2. #2
    SlickVic9000's Avatar
    SlickVic9000 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    (Not a Teacher)

    I've always been taught that you are not supposed to start a sentence with a conjunction. But people do it anyway.

  3. #3
    Tuco is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by SlickVic9000 View Post
    (Not a Teacher)

    I've always been taught that you are not supposed to start a sentence with a conjunction. But people do it anyway.
    Ah, the obligatory sentence beginning with a coordinating conjunction to show in context how it can be done. This approach is anything but novel. Of course people do it anyway, and it is still improper--grammatically speaking. Do you deny it?

  4. #4
    SlickVic9000's Avatar
    SlickVic9000 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    No, it was a snarky gibe that I couldn't resist. Here's my real opinion:

    Yes, it's grammatically incorrect, at least in writing, to begin a sentence with any kind of conjunction. However, we must also acknowledge that this 'error' has a stylistic literary tradition dating back at least as far as the King James Version of the Bible (a looming monument of English literature, if there is such a thing).

    I don't necessarily like how the posters blew it off completely. If you aren't writing fiction or informally, you should follow the rules.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    Tuco, if you want to discuss the issue here, please put forward some of your ideas in this thread rather than send us to a site that requires clicking on further links to follow up the ideas.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuco View Post
    It seems all the threads are closed!
    Threads that have been inactive for a period of time - six months, I think - get closed automatically. This makes it harder for spammers to search for key words and post lots of links. If you want a thread to be opened, send the link to a moderator and they can open it. I have opened the thread.

  7. #7
    Tuco is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by SlickVic9000 View Post
    No, it was a snarky gibe that I couldn't resist. Here's my real opinion:

    Yes, it's grammatically incorrect, at least in writing, to begin a sentence with any kind of conjunction. However, we must also acknowledge that this 'error' has a stylistic literary tradition dating back at least as far as the King James Version of the Bible (a looming monument of English literature, if there is such a thing).

    I don't necessarily like how the posters blew it off completely. If you aren't writing fiction or informally, you should follow the rules.
    I appreciate you coming out with an honest answer.


    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Tuco, if you want to discuss the issue here, please put forward some of your ideas in this thread rather than send us to a site that requires clicking on further links to follow up the ideas.
    Frankly, I'm not big on links. I created an interactive mind map so that I could analyze my research. I did not anticipate a desire to post the information here. It is likely the most in depth analysis of different rationales in support of, and against the coordinating conjunction at the beginning of a sentence; furthermore, the only extra clicking required was to interact with the mind map. That's OK. If anyone is interested in reading excerpts from my manuscript including interviews with professors from prestigious colleges, the CMS, The Associated Press, and other reputable minds, and what they had to say on the coordinating conjunction at the beginning of a sentence, look me up. I can't post 10 years worth of research in a mind map because this site deleted a link.

    I have presented my ideas here 5jj. I decided to offer a link because I find it unnecessary to rework the information I put in the mind map when it is easily accessible and intuitive the way I present it. That's OK. I dedicated my work "To whom it may concern" for exactly this reason. The truth doesn't seem to concern most people, and I didn't write for you. I wrote it for those who ask the question and want to know, but continuously get served an agenda from those who spend money to learn the rules, but only preach descriptive usage.

    Are you teacher? If so, is that in a public or private institution?


    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post


    Threads that have been inactive for a period of time - six months, I think - get closed automatically. This makes it harder for spammers to search for key words and post lots of links. If you want a thread to be opened, send the link to a moderator and they can open it. I have opened the thread.

    Thank you Tdol, but I am being shut out. I heard the reason. A link that requires more clicking yada yada. That makes it sound like an endless list of links, which it was not. The link offers excellent information that challenges everyone who says it is "OK" to begin a sentence this way. It also offers sources who support them. I was fair and thorough. That's OK. If someone is interested in hearing why it is grammatically wrong, they can contact me any time. If they want to be misled, they can read everyone elses post except for the gentleman who above admitted it is in fact grammatically incorrect.

    I really do appreciate you opening the other link, but in truth, the person who deleted my link should probably take his admin powers more seriously and merge the threads that ask the same question...and are never answered. I can still see abstractidea's multiple posts. He/she eventually says he is interested to know "very formal English." The moderators can't read into his question. His question is, "What is grammatically correct?" They don't have the background on the language to discuss language when teachers are busy being disingenuous.

    I'm sorry to inspire you to open another thread. I don't want to have a discussion with people who are in inveterate denial and have a finger on the button. I just hope people realize that a moderator took 10 years of research away from your view on a subject people continue to ask about, but that most educators won't even be truthful about.
    Last edited by Tuco; 27-Jul-2012 at 23:47.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuco View Post
    I wrote it for those who ask the question and want to know, but continuously get served an agenda from those who spend money to learn the rules, but only preach descriptive usage.
    Sorry, but I don't quite follow that. It seems to be saying that people who spend money to learn rules preach descriptive usage. People who pay to learn don't usually preach, in my experience.

    As far as 'descriptive usage is concerned, I prefer to teach the language as it is used by most native speakers rather than a language based on 'rules' decided by self-appointed 'experts'.
    Are you teach in a public or private institution?
    Do you teach?
    Are you teaching?


    If one wishes to have one's views on a language taken seriously, one needs to demonstrate that one knows how to use it.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  9. #9
    Tuco is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    Sorry, but I don't quite follow that. It seems to be saying that people who spend money to learn rules preach descriptive usage. People who pay to learn don't usually preach, in my experience.
    When people ask a a question of grammar and are consistently given answers referring to descriptive usage, I do not consider those answering to be teaching matters of grammar, but preaching theology. (That was modified from Style Towards Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williams.) So it seems, those in a position to espouse do so from a costly place of learning, and what they espouse is description. Since the question the gentleman asked seemed to lean towards prescription. Since the person who answered did so based on description, it seemed more like preaching.

    I agree, people who pay to learn don't usually preach, but in this instance, that's what they were doing. Perhaps their sin is to covet, and they covet their learning, and so when someone asks a question of grammar, these teachers "don't understand" because they want to hoard their learning.

    As far as 'descriptive usage is concerned, I prefer to teach the language as it is used by most native speakers rather than a language based on 'rules' decided by self-appointed 'experts'.
    So you are relegated to ESL. I mean, a native speaker does not need to be taught what the consistently read and hear...unless you think they need to be taught how to read?

    It is no wonder I didn't trust the Real AcademiaEspaņola when they gave me their answer. While I don't pretend to judge another language by the standards of my own, I do know that when you are learning another language, you can't trust a teacher of the language you are learning as a second language to teach you rules. They will only teach you street. Always striving for mediocrity.

    That is not to say one can not use creative license etc...but to teach the way people speak the language when they are asking a grammatical question...really sir, you prove my point.

    Do you teach?
    Are you teaching?


    If one wishes to have one's views on a language taken seriously, one needs to demonstrate that one knows how to use it.
    Brilliant tactics in diversion. It always lets me know I'm barking up the right tree.

    Good day.
    Last edited by Tuco; 29-Jul-2012 at 22:16. Reason: I wanted to be a bit clearer.

  10. #10
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: And and But at the Beginning of a Sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuco View Post
    When people ask a a question of grammar and are consistently given answers referring to descriptive usage, I do not consider those answering to be teaching matters of grammar, but preaching theology.
    So what do you think 'grammar' is then?

    In case you think I am attempting to fudge, I'll tell you what I think it is. I think it is an attempt to describe the systems of a language. The 'rules' of grammar are observations, not prescriptions.

    Thus, for me, a 'rule' that states that native speakers normally add -(e)s to the third person singular form of the present simple form of lexical verbs is sound. It describes the reality. A 'rule' that states that conjunctions cannot begin a sentence is simply an opinion. It does not reflect the reality - many native speakers begin utterances with a conjunction.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


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