There are many confusing grammatical rules in the English language, and starting a sentence with "and" is one of them. Remember the school days? All our teachers told us not to use it when beginning a sentence. But many renowned writers don't follow this rule anymore.
So, can you start a sentence with and?
Generally, the word "and" is primarily used for joining clauses or phrases using commas before the conjunction. And in academic writing, it's not preferable to start a sentence with "and." But the grammar police will probably forgive you if you do this in informal writing. If you follow proper rules, "and" is acceptable at the beginning of a sentence.
When should you use "and" to begin a sentence? Does it make sentence fragments? We'll give all the answers in this article. Read along.
Can you start a sentence with and?
One of the most used English words is "and," which is also one of the coordinating conjunctions. Usually, coordinating conjunction is used to compose a complex sentence where you use a comma to join independent clauses. For example:
- My father owns an Audi, and my uncle owns a Mercedes Benz.
We learned these grammar rules in our school from English teachers and were taught to avoid starting a sentence with conjunctions. But many writers now use "and" to start sentences. You can find abundant instances in numerous blog posts and journals.
Our High School English teacher wasn't wrong, and the writers who use "and" to start a sentence aren't incorrect either. You can start a sentence using this word and other conjunctions.
However, there are some rules to forming a complete sentence using "and" at the beginning. The conjunction is appropriate for making a point, creating a dramatic effect, or giving stylistic emphasis. For example:
- My friends and I worked hard for this math contest. And we won!
There are other contexts where you can use the word "and," such as clarity, rhetorical effect, or flow. But you can't use any of the seven coordinating conjunctions to start a sentence in formal writing, as it will be considered a mistake.
Although it's okay to start a sentence with "and," don't overuse the word. Here are some more examples of how to use the word properly at the beginning of a sentence::
- Yesterday, my friend baked a cake for me. And today, she baked some chocolate chip cookies again.
- We feel down sometimes because of our daily struggles. And that's okay.
When is it grammatically correct to begin sentences with "and"?
"And" is generally used to connect two sentences or thoughts.
It means this conjunction turns two sentences into one sentence by using a comma instead of a period. Therefore, it defines that the word "and" in a sentence will precede a subject and a specific verb. So, it's grammatically correct to connect words using "and."
But what about the grammar rules regarding a sentence that starts with "and?" The answer usually depends on your content type, such as academic, formal, informal, or creative writing.
When you work on quality education content writing or formal writing, you should avoid starting a sentence using "and" as it brings a sense of informality. For example:
- Our lab computer crashed suddenly. And we, unfortunately, lost our lab reports. (Less Formal)
- Our lab computer crashed suddenly. Therefore, we, unfortunately, lost our lab reports. (More Formal)
Usually, academic or formal writings connect sentences using transition words instead of starting the second sentence with the word "and" or other conjunctions.
But it's acceptable to use in your informal writings and blog posts. In short, no English Grammar rule defines that starting a sentence with a conjunction is incorrect. Still, you should be careful about the tone a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence creates. It may sound out of place, depending on the context of your writing.
When can you start sentences with "and"?
So, you now know the answer to "can you start a sentence with and" and when it's grammatically correct. Let's learn some practical ways to start sentences with this conjunction:
Making writing conversational
When you write a blog post, you want to make your writing engaging and friendly. Hence, you're supposed to use an informal tone in real-life communication.
When we speak with another person, we use conjunctions to make the conversation friendlier. We can imitate that style in our writings by using conjunctions.
Suppose you're writing a blog post on 'How to make money online?' after explaining all the steps, tricks, and tips, you can conclude your paragraph with a sentence like:
- Keep patience and work hard. And your efforts will surely bring your fortune.
Adding stress to the writing
Starting sentences using a conjunction like and, but, or so force the reader to pay attention.
Suppose you're writing a letter to your friend or composing an article regarding the "bad effects of drinking alcohol." In that case, you can start a sentence with "and" to bring attention to the consequences of alcohol addiction. For example:
- Alcohol overdose can cause permanent damage to our brains and affect our overall health. And these health damages gradually lead to death.
Creating dramatic effects
Conjunctive adverbs are a helpful way to add cohesion to your writing by connecting two main clauses. Similarly, using the coordinating conjunction "and" at the beginning of a sentence adds a dramatic effect to your informal writing. For example:
- I ate a bucket of KFC chicken, a large fry, then a cheeseburger for an evening snack. And I was still craving some mac and cheese!
If you want to highlight something in your writing, use conjunction words like "and." Using a period before the conjunction will make the following sentence more assertive. For example:
- My cousins and I went to an expensive restaurant and ordered food. We enjoyed our food and asked for the bill. And then we realized we had forgotten our credit cards at home!
Some common issues when starting sentences using "and"
How do you know when using "and" at the beginning of sentences is incorrect? Don't worry. You just need to remember a couple of factors.
Suppose you're writing a business correspondence, academic thesis, or journal entry. In that case, the style and tone of this type of writing can make a sentence starting with "and" sound very odd.
It will also be incorrect when "and" does not connect to the main clause of the previous sentence. For example:
- There are many causes of environmental pollution. And sound pollution is one of them.
What do you think? Does the second sentence with "and" make sense? No, it doesn't. This new sentence fails to connect to the main clause. For this reason, "and" at the beginning of the second sentence is grammatically incorrect here.
Again, sometimes we try to connect two different sentences using "and" at the beginning. But without coherence, forcing "and" to connect two sentences doesn't make sense. For example:
- There was a heavy storm outside and loud noises of thunder. And a woman had a baby in her lap. (INCORRECT)
- There was a heavy storm outside and loud noises of thunder. And a baby started to cry in her mother's lap. (CORRECT)
Using a comma before the conjunction would still make the sentence grammatically correct.
So, as you can see, even if you can start a sentence with "and," you still need to maintain coherence and use related sentences to make it grammatically acceptable.
Since it's easy to make these common mistakes, English teachers discourage students from using it at the beginning of a sentence from a young age. Although this usage is correct, you need to consider your text's tone, context, and coherence before using the word.
However, the best practice is to avoid using "and" at the start of a sentence if you think the conjunctions don't fit properly.
Are you making sentence fragments by using "and" at the beginning?
A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence because of lacking a subject or a verb, or both. It's grammatically correct in formal writing but can be used in informal writing to create suspense or add emphasis. For example:
- I left my parents' home when I was 19. Never returned.
Many believe that starting a sentence with "and" causes sentence fragments. This misconception probably arises from not knowing what a conjunction is and what it does.
Generally, there are three types of conjunctions: subordinating, correlative, and coordinating. Only subordinating conjunctions can turn sentences into fragments.
However, it doesn't mean that coordinating conjunctions don't form fragments. If you use them violating the correct grammatical rules, they'll fragment the sentence. For this reason, you need to be careful when starting a sentence using "and."
Some formal writings allow limited use of fragments against the grammatical error rules. But the writer must have a compelling reason for using fragments. It's the same when starting a sentence with "and."
Here are some examples of sentence fragments using this particular conjunction in the beginning:
- The area was dark and scary. And saw a ghost. (Sentence Fragment)
- The area was dark and scary. And my friend thinks she saw a ghost. (Correct Sentence)
- And watched a soccer game yesterday. (Sentence Fragment)
- And I watched a soccer game yesterday. (Correct Sentence)
When can you use the Old English writing method?
Starting a sentence with a conjunction "and" was pretty standard in the Old English Period and has been practiced in English Literature for over a thousand years. In the Old English translation of the Bible, there was excessive use of "and." Here is a Bible translation quote:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.…"__Genesis 1:2
Here are some examples from English Literature:
"The flower bloomed and faded. The sun rose and sank. The lover loved and went. And what the poets said in rhyme, the young translated into practice."__Orlando by Virginia Woolf.
"All through it, I have known myself to be quite undeserving. And yet I have had the weakness, and have still the weakness, to wish you to know with what a sudden mastery you kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire- a fire, however, inseparable in its nature from myself, quickening nothing, lighting nothing, doing no service, idly burning away."__A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
Is Old English acceptable in general writing? In business and professional content writing, such as social media posts, blog posts, or description posts, you can use "and" to start a sentence with no doubt. No one is going to laugh or point it out as a mistake.
Still, you should be careful about using coordinating conjunctions in your business content to avoid common mistakes, fragments, and grammatical errors.
Data-driven content like white papers, statistic-related content, or textbook content usually doesn't follow this method. In fact, it's standard to use more transition words instead of Old English and literary writing methods.
Alternative phrases to start a sentence without "and"
If you're not interested in starting a sentence with "and," what phrase should you use? Since there are chances of making mistakes, you may want to use some alternative phrases to start the sentence.
Using "and" at the beginning of a sentence is more like a stylistic choice than a compulsory grammar rule in creative writing. However, here are some alternative phrases that you can use instead of "and":
- In addition
However, remember that mentioned transition words contain discrete meanings and subtle differences. Thus, you need to know these alternatives' meanings and proper uses for accurate application.
The context of the writing plays a significant role in determining the alternative phrases and the area of placement. Here are some examples of using "and" and transition words and see how it changes the sentence:
- There was a cat in the garden. And there was a dog too. (Conjunction)
- There was a cat in the garden. Also, there was a dog too. (Transition Word)
- There was a cat in the garden. And I did not spot any dogs nearby. (Conjunction)
- There was a cat in the garden. However, I did not spot any dogs nearby. (Transition Word)
- There was a cat in the garden. And we assumed that there would be some kittens as well. (Conjunction)
- There was a cat in the garden. Therefore, we assumed that there would be some kittens as well. (Transition Word)
What about the other coordinating conjunctions?
We mentioned in the beginning that there are seven coordinating conjunctions. What are the other conjunctions? Can you begin a sentence with those words as well?
Yes, you can start a sentence with those words or use a comma to connect clauses. Here are examples of other coordinating conjunctions:
- I did not give my cousin compliments about his new dress. For that would be a lie.
- She does not drink alcohol. Nor does she smoke cigarettes.
- My mum bought my brother a mango-flavored ice cream. But he prefers chocolate ice cream.
- We can go to Disneyland. Or we can go to the National Gallery of Art.
- Dorothy did hard work for her exams. Yet she ranked in third place.
- My nephew loves pancakes. So I made him some for breakfast.
Can you start a sentence with and? The answer to the question is yes, you can. English Grammar does not rule it as a mistake. Some people seem to label it wrong because they don't know the correct rules.
However, it doesn't indicate that you can start any sentence using "and." It'll make sense only when you follow the proper rules.
We hope you are no longer confused about "and" at the beginning of a sentence. Check our blog for more grammar and writing tips.