Can you start a sentence with but? :- Throughout our school life, it has been taught to us that starting the sentence with conjunctions like “And” or “But” is unacceptable.
However, with the course of time and with the English language being more widely spoken and accepted, does the rule of avoiding starting the sentence with conjunction still apply?
Well, before answering the question, let’s know what the conjunctions are.
Conjunction is the part of speech in grammar that connects phrases, words or clauses. In other words, conjunctions are the words that join the sentences. Few of the examples of coordinating conjunctions with their use in the sentences are as follows
In above examples, all the conjunctions are used to connect two sentences. In each of the examples, conjunctions like but, for, and, nor, or, yet or so has connected two sentences to give the meaning. Conjunctions allows writers connect many phrases or clauses efficiently making the writing more clear as well as short. Very often the use of the conjunctions co-ordinate 2 or more independent clauses.
Can we start sentence with conjunctions
Undoubtedly, it has been a subject of debate over decades whether or not a sentence should start with the conjunction like but. However, over time, it has been generally agreed that any sentence may being with any conjunction like But, And, yet and many more.
Some linguists and language experts even believe that in some cases, conjunctions do better job in opening a sentence than the formal constructions. So, it is not entirely wrong to start a sentence with the conjunctions like but, and, or etc.
Starting a sentence with but
Starting a sentence with but is fine when it is used to launch and independent clause, a group of words with verb and a subject, however, it is not considered okay to start a sentence with but where the subjected itself is missing. In other words, it is not considered okay to use but to start a sentence fragment.
Let’s clear this idea with two examples
Example 1: Sita has been working all day long to ensure she could get a day off tomorrow. But, as the shift ended she is reminded of pending jobs that have not yet been completed.
Example 2: Sita has been working all day long to ensure she could get a day off tomorrow. But, as the shift ended, reminded all pending jobs that have not yet been completed.
In example 1, the second sentence starting with but is accepted as the sentence has subject (She). However, in the example 2, the use of “But” to start the second sentence is not considered appropriate as the sentence is missing the subject itself.
This shows that, use of “But” is subjected to the sentence. It is inappropriate if used in sentence fragments.
Few examples of sentences starting with but.
Few famous book quotes that starts with “But”
“The King’s English, H.D. Fowler (1908 edition)”
“But if, instead of his Saxon percentage’s being the natural and undersigned consequence of his brevity (and the rest), those other qualities have been attained by his consciously restricting himself to Saxon, his pains will have been worse than wasted; the taint of preciosity will be over all he has written.”
“Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, page 1”
“We can’t do much, but we can make our little sacrifices, and ought to do it gladly. But I’m afraid I don’t.” And Meg shook her head, as she thought regretfully of all the pretty things she wanted.”
“Hamlet, William Shakespeare, Ii:
Horatio: So have I heard and do in part believe it.
But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill”
The above thrww examples from famous writers like Louisa May Alcott and HD Fowler and of course Willian Shakespeare prove that it is completely okay to start a sentence with but. There are many other such examples where famous writers have used conjunctions to start a sentence. Even William Shakespeare in his famous piece of work “Hamlet” has started the sentences with but.
In conclusion, it is completely safe to say that despite few backlashes from few language experts, it is completely okay to start a sentence using the conjunctions like but, and, or, for, nor and many more.
However, it is important you know your audience first before starting a sentence with the conjunctions. If your target audience are kids, it is safe to use conjunctions in the primitive way. However, mature audiences whose grasps to English language is good, sentence with but can be more tempting and meaningful.
So, if you are wondering if it is okay to start the sentence with but, the answer is “Yes”. Yes, you can start any sentence with “but” and give justice to the sentences and its meaning as well.