Are you ready to break another grammar rule? Because I’m about to give you permission to be a rule breaker. Here we go.
Start your sentences with and & but.
(I’m using an ampersand because ‘and and but’ just seems wrong and this is my blog, so I do what I wanna.)
Yes. Start your sentences with and & but! It makes you sound more relateable.
Let’s backtrack for a second and discuss prescriptivism and descriptivism. These big words are important when it comes to grammar because traditional grammarians usually fall under prescriptivism. Prescriptivism meaning you prescribe a set of rules to follow and those rules are final–no arguments, no negotiation. Descriptivism, on the other hand, involves describing grammar as it’s actually used.
I fall somewhere in between the two, in case you’re wondering.
The reason I talk about prescriptivism and descriptivism (my eyes are going cross-eyed trying to type those words) is that the “never start a sentence with and or but” rule is one of those prescriptivist rules.
It’s what your strict English teacher told you in grade school. It’s what your grammar Nazis will tell you. It’s not how you write properly.
Blah. Blah. Blah.
We use both and & but to start sentences in speech all the time. It’s a speech habit that’s slowly crept into our writing habits. It happens. This is how language evolves. And in some cases, starting your sentence with and or but (like I just did) is perfectly acceptable.
Traditional grammarians refuse to believe that certain fixed meaning words, like conjunctions (and & but, or even or, and really all this repetition is ridiculous), can have other functions. Like starting a sentence. But we use these words to transition into a new sentence, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Why? Fighting the tide of language evolution is often useless.
Here are suggestions to keep in mind when you set out to break this rule:
• Starting your sentences with and or but is informal, so if your goal is to establish a connection with your reader, you should adopt informal writing patterns.
• Informal situations–like on your blog, in an email, or on social media–are the best places to break this rule.
• Formal writing situations may frown upon the use of and & but to start sentences, and it’s worth respecting your audience.
• If you do need to sound formal or you want a character to sound formal, don’t use and or but to start a sentence. Try however or in addition instead.