Is it okay to start a sentence with “and” or “but”? The answer is yes, provided you follow these pointers. From the time we learn to write, many teachers have drummed into our heads that it is incorrect and unacceptable to begin a sentence with “and” or “but,” but the majority of grammar and usage references do not support this.

“And” and “but” are two of the most commonly used coordinating conjunctions; others include “for,” “nor,” “or,” “yet,” and “so.”

If you dare to start a sentence with “and” or “but,” make sure you have a reason to do so. It is normally done to call attention to or stress what comes after the conjunction. For example, take the sentence, “I had a great day, but my night became a disaster.” The second part of the sentence reflects a crucial change, but it gets lost coming directly after the first part. It would be more effective here to split the two: “I had a great day. But my night became a disaster.” This format emphasizes the shift.

Just check that the second part of the sentence can actually stand alone as a sentence and is not a fragment; it must express a complete thought and have a subject and verb to stand alone.

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