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    #1

    Question Or

    Hi. Do you think that "or" can be used at the beginning of a sentence in formal (e.g., academic) writing? A simple example:
    "Should one apply the procedure A irrespective of a situation? Or, should one apply the procedure A only if the situation if advantageous for it? Or, should one apply the procedure B in such a situation?"

    Best wishes,
    Nyggus

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    #2

    Re: Or

    Why not use semi-colons to divide the large chunks up?

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    #3

    Re: Or

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Why not use semi-colons to divide the large chunks up?
    Do you mean something like that? --

    "Should one apply the procedure A irrespective of a situation?; or, should one apply the procedure A only if the situation if advantageous for it?; or, should one apply the procedure B in such a situation?"

    Is it fine to join a question mark with a semicolon?

    Nyggus

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    #4

    Re: Or

    The semicolon is used for "contact clauses" -- that is, clauses that are joined together in one sentence but without a conjunction (like "and" or, sometimes, "or").

    There is actually no grammatical reason why "and" and "or" should not occur at the beginning of a sentence. However, many traditionalists insist that there is such a grammar rule, so if you're writing formal, academic English, you should avoid using that construction.

    Purely grammatically, this should be acceptable:

    Should one apply procedure A irrespective of a situation, procedure A only if the situation is advantageous for it, or procedure B in such a situation?

    The comma before "or" is known as the "Oxford comma" and some people say the Oxford comma should not be used; I use it here because it makes the sentence a little easier to understand.

    However, I am not clear what you mean by "in such a situation". Here are two different interpretations:

    Should one apply procedure A irrespective of a situation or only if the situation is advantageous for it? Or should one apply procedure B in the former case?

    ...Or should one apply procedure B in the latter case?

    I think that making two questions is more elegant and easier to understand. Unfortunately, we're back to "or" at the beginning of the sentence. But we can avoid that simply by using a different word:

    ...Alternatively, should one use B...?

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    #5

    Re: Or

    Thanks, Rewboss. Of course, the second interpretation of yours is correct.

    Best,
    Nyggus

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