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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Starting trouble

Can a sentence begin with "and"? Are you allowed to begin a sentence with "but"? These are two questions I'm asked every year by our new students. And when I tell them, of course you can, they are sceptical. But this is not what is taught in school, they tell me.

What does one of the world's greatest newspapers, The New York Times, have to say on the issue? Yes, you CAN begin sentences with "and" and "but". Writing in a Times blog on usage and style, Philip B. Corbett asserts that “but” is preferable in many cases to the stilted “however,” and “and” is simpler than “in addition” or similar phrases.

Corbett, who is the associate managing editor for standards and also in charge of The Times’s style manual, has compiled, in one post, answers to some of the most common questions regarding grammar, usage, and style, including the following:
  • ‘None’: Singular or plural?
  • ‘Like’ or ‘Such as’?
  • Are split infinitives acceptable?
  • Should a sentence ever start with ‘and’?
  • Is data singular or plural?
  • Where’s the comma?
Follow the blog here: "After Deadline: Notes on Usage and Style".

Also read: "The most comma mistakes", by Ben Yagoda, who is a contributor to "Draft", The Times’s series about the art and craft of writing.

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