Beginning Sentences With And, But, Or, or For
For practice using coordinating conjunctions to begin sentences, review the examples below. Then complete the practice exercise.
Many well-meaning but mistaken elementary school teachers tell young writers never to begin sentences with and, but, or, or for. It is acceptable to start a sentence occasionally with a coordinating conjunction such as and, but, or, or for. Remember, however, that occasionally is the key word. When you use and, but, or, or for to begin sentences too frequently, your writing becomes disjointed and feels choppy to the reader. These words are helpful, though, when youre trying to emphasize something or to create a stylistic variation. Consider the following examples:
want you all to go out and have fun tonight, but
please be careful.
Can you sense the difference? Both sentences convey the same information, but the first example simply tacks please be careful on at the end. The second sentence emphasizes the charge to be careful. Its almost as if your mother were speaking to you and several of your friends. She really does want you to have fun. But shes more concerned that youre safe.
same basic principle applies to and,
or, and for.
Notice how the following paragraphs arent as effective as they might
be. They are disjointed and choppy to read. It would be a rare exception
to start two sentences in the same paragraph with coordinating
conjunctionslet alone the same one.
many ands begin sentences in the paragraph above. The paragraph
seems disjointed and poorly planned.
many coordinating conjunctions begin sentences in the paragraph above. The
paragraph seems choppy and disjointed as a result.
Although the paragraph above isnt perfect, it reads much more smoothly than the others. Starting the sentence Or so it seemed with the coordinating conjunction or gives it power and effect and is a good stylistic choice.
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