Posted by: episystechpubs | November 6, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Beginning Sentences with Conjunctions

The other day, someone asked me whether it is acceptable to start a sentence with and, but, yet, or other coordinating conjunctions. The answer is: it depends.

Many teachers will tell you that it is not at all acceptable; our authority, the Chicago Manual of Style says that the belief that you can’t start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction “has no historical or grammatical foundation.” Additionally, CMOS says “a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. It has been so for centuries, and even the most conservative grammarians have followed this practice” (CMOS 5.206).

As far as being a technical editor who deals mostly with technical writing, I would recommend that you stay away from this construction. The “first-rate writing” that CMOS mentions is from renowned writers such as Jonathan Swift, Samuel Johnson, Jane Austen, and George Orwell. I don’t think anyone will ever accuse us of penning a masterpiece on lending software.

So, you can use a coordinating conjunction to start a sentence without the grammar police arresting you, but just like anybody can legally wear a bikini—sometimes it is better not to if you can’t do it well.

Need a reminder about how to use conjunctions? Take a trip back to the ‘70s with Schoolhouse Rock.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: