Have you ever been told it’s wrong to start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’? Well, that’s a myth: starting a sentence with a conjunction is not ungrammatical. In fact, it can be rather useful.

The Oxford English Dictionary points out that ‘many respected writers use conjunctions at the start of a sentence to create a dramatic or forceful effect’. That is, of course, what we are doing with the title of this post.

This isn’t something new, either, as respected linguist David Crystal highlights on his blog. There are sentences beginning with ‘and’ in Chaucer, Shakespeare, the King James Bible, Macaulay and others, he explains. And in the King James Bible, all but two of the verses in the first chapter of Genesis begin with ‘and’.

The important thing, as with so much in life, is not to overdo it. Start every sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’ and you’ll lose the element of surprise that creates emphasis, and you might also irritate your readers.

But if you use conjunctions at the start of sentences wisely you’ll be rewarded with engaging prose.

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