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Many Sentences Start With a Conjunction. But Is That Okay?

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Many people have been taught not to start a sentence with a “conjunction.” But, is this a rule that should be strictly followed? We’ll tell you the answer.

White text over purple background reads "starting a sentence with a conjunction."
Many major style guides agree that starting a sentence with a conjunction is acceptable.
  • A conjunction is a word that connects words, phrases, or clauses to each other.
  • Starting a sentence with a conjunction is acceptable. But be wary because it’s easy to overdo it.

What’s The Deal with “Conjunctions”?

One of the first things we’re taught as young students learning to write in English is not to start a sentence with a conjunction. But if you open up any book, newspaper, or magazine, you’ll notice that sentences that start with conjunctions are everywhere. So, what’s the deal?

It is believed that teachers may have taught not to use conjunctions at the start of sentences because students did so excessively or incorrectly. Instead of teaching them to limit conjunctions at the start of sentences, they were just banned outright. The reality is that starting a sentence with a conjunction is all a matter of style and tone. Below, we’ll teach you what conjunctions are and show you that starting sentences with these words is not always wrong.

What Is a “Conjunction”?

First thing’s first: What’s a conjunction? Conjunctions are a group of words that connect (and show a relationship between) words, phrases, or clauses within a sentence. There are three different types of conjunctions:

  • Coordinating conjunctions are the most common types of conjunctions. They join similar elements of a sentence. The coordinating conjunctions are:
for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

You can remember these with the acronym FANBOYS.

  • Correlative conjunctions come in pairs and join equal elements of a sentence. The correlative conjunctions are:
both/and, just as/so, not only/but also, whether/or, neither/nor, either/or
  • Subordinating conjunctions always go at the beginning of a clause. They show the relationship between that subordinate clause (sometimes known as a dependent clause) to another one.

A few examples of subordinating clauses are:

after, before, if, unless, although, until, now that, once, though, as long as, when, unless, because, whether, while
This catchy song about “conjunctions” is from a ‘70s educational cartoon show called Schoolhouse Rock!

Is Starting Sentences With “Conjunctions” Okay?

You’ll find that many major newspapers, magazines, and popular books include sentences that start with conjunctions. Doing so is all a matter of tone, style, and the desired effect. Consider the following example:

She apologized for lying to me, but it was too late. I had moved on.

She apologized for lying to me. But it was too late, I had moved on.

The full stop before but in the second sentence adds a slightly more dramatic effect.

We fixed the cybersecurity issues. Yet, I couldn’t help but think that the hackers might still get through.

We fixed the cybersecurity issues, yet I couldn’t help but think that the hackers might still get through.

Again, both sentences are grammatically correct, but the strategic use of conjunctions changes the tone of the sentence.

Both Thomas and Jessica applied to Harvard.

This is an example of a sentence that starts with a correlative conjunction and is grammatically correct. Remember, these types of conjunctions must come in pairs. The sentence above wouldn’t make sense without and Jessica.

It’s also possible (and acceptable) to start a sentence with subordinating conjunctions, but you must be careful not to only include sentence fragments. Consider the following examples:

Because I was tired.

With no context around it, the sentence above is a sentence fragment. For it to make sense because must join two clauses.

Because I was tired, I left the party early.

So, Yes. Starting a Sentence With a Conjunction Is Okay

Just make sure that you’re using the conjunctions correctly and that you’re giving enough context for the reader to understand. Here’s one last example of a grammatically sound sentence that starts with a conjunction:

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