Despite English teachers warning us for years about using conjunctions to start a sentence, it's still widely accepted in daily communication. Yet, many people are still hesitant to do so—afraid their writing will be seen as unprofessional or incorrect.
Can you start a sentence with "yet"?
Of course, you can. Starting a sentence with this oft-forbidden conjunction can lend clarity and impact to written works.
Is this a grammatically correct rule? Do you need to use a comma after "yet"? Find out the answers to these questions and tips and tricks on how to use "yet" correctly.
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Can you start a sentence with "yet"?
The word "yet" is a conjunction that can also be used in sentences as an adverb. Generally, we use all seven coordinating conjunctions to create a link between two independent clauses.
Using "yet" in these sentences adds a sense of contrast, indicating what has come before is at odds with the next thing. When joining two sentences, you must use a comma before placing it in the second clause.
- Beth owns a Mercedes-Benz, yet she is crazy about buying a Lexus.
- I hadn't expected to win, yet I did.
- They were warned of the consequences, yet they chose to ignore it.
- Millie had little knowledge of the subject, yet she could comprehend it easily.
But what about starting a sentence with this conjunction? It's completely acceptable and can be more powerful and exciting, depending on how you use it. When the second sentence's contrasting idea connects to the preceding sentence, you can place "yet" at the start after a period.
Sometimes it's necessary to separate two clauses of the same sentence in certain types of writing. And that's when you can use "yet" as a conjunction instead of in adverb form.
However, you need to understand the proper placement of yet. Unlike starting a sentence with "and," you can't start any sentence with "yet." In this case, the first sentence must contain information about the result, consequence, or other contrasting ideas. If such a sentence is missing, then starting a sentence with this coordinating conjunction will be incorrect.
Some instances of "yet" at the beginning of sentences are:
- The manager had warned her several times. Yet again, she was late to work yesterday.
- We have gathered all the necessary resources. Yet the outcome of this endeavor remains uncertain.
- I tried every solution I could think of to make the software work. Yet nothing seemed to work.
Is it grammatically correct to begin sentences with "yet"?
Yes, it's grammatically correct to start a sentence with "yet" after a period. However, the preceding sentence has to express a contrasting idea. Otherwise, the use of "yet" will be grammatically incorrect.
- The CPU of my computer crashed. Yet I couldn't submit assignments on time. (Incorrect)
- The CPU of my computer crashed. So I couldn't submit assignments on time. (Correct)
The initial sentence of the first example states a problem without presenting any contrast or comparison. The second sentence also lacks a comparison. Therefore, the first example is grammatically incorrect.
But it would be perfectly acceptable if the sentences had presented contrasting ideas. For example:
- I tried my best to fix the CPU when it crashed. Yet I couldn't turn the computer on.
Do you need to put a comma after "yet"?
Yes, you must place a comma after "yet" in some cases. Mastering punctuation rules can be challenging. You need to understand the rules of using a comma for starting sentences with this coordinating conjunction.
But don't worry; there is only one rule regarding when and where to place a comma after "yet."
So, put a comma after "yet" if the word is used as an alternative to:
- Despite that
Here are some examples of the placement for commas after "yet":
- John has been insisting that I sign up for the language course. Yet, I'm not interested anymore.
In this example, "yet" is used instead of "but" to present a contrasting situation.
On the other hand, if "yet" sits as an alternative to "still" or "up until now," you don't need to insert a comma after the conjunction. For example:
- I requested my friends to arrive at the party at 6 pm, but it's past 6:30 now. Yet no one has arrived at the party.
However, some writers may use a comma after "yet" in this above example to improve clarity.
What does "yet" mean at the beginning of sentences?
When is it suitable to begin sentences with "yet"? To understand the perfect placement, you need to know the meaning of "yet" and how it works to join words.
"Yet" can refer to multiple meanings by sitting at the beginning and end of the sentence. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "yet" refers to "despite that" if you place it at the start. When you write this word at the beginning of a sentence, it can also mean:
- In spite of
Therefore, adding "yet" at the beginning gives a sense that the new sentence does not carry the effects of the things mentioned in the first sentence. Using this conjunction effectively shows the interaction and contrast between two things.
Whether you're writing formal or informal text, you can use "yet" to start a sentence in both cases. The same rule applies to academic writing, where teachers are more lenient about using "but" and "and."
It's an old writing style, which is still considered a correct practice. Even professional content writers widely use this conjunction in their copy.
How to avoid sentence fragments while using "yet" to start a sentence?
Starting a sentence with "yet" doesn't create a sentence fragment. But many people think using a conjunction at the beginning can cause this problem.
Fragmented sentences lack either subject or predicate. So, if you want to avoid this, input both the subject and predicate after starting the sentence with "yet."
- I had worked hard on the project for months. Yet couldn't complete it in time. (Sentence Fragment)
- I had worked hard on the project for months. Yet I couldn't complete it in time. (Correct Sentence)
Alternatives to starting a sentence with "yet"
Using "yet" to form a sentence is a stylistic choice. Therefore, some of you may not want to use this coordinating conjunction. In that case, use an alternative phrase with almost the same meaning.
- Despite of
- In spite of
So, you now know whether you can start a sentence with "yet." Its usage mostly depends on the type and style of the sentences. Since "yet" is used at the beginning of a contrasting sentence, you can't use it everywhere or anyhow you want.
A misplaced "yet" can confuse the reader and change the meaning of the text. For this reason, understanding the purpose and placement is crucial to begin a sentence with "yet."