I am currently writing up a persuasive essay, one of the sentences is as follows.

Advocates and non-advocates of change, we must show reconciliation towards the rightful owners.

My advisor mentioned that you cannot start a sentence with advocates. As far as I know, advocate is a noun, even adding an s makes it a plural noun. So why am I not allowed to start a sentence with advocates? Is it the context itself?

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    Hope the adviser elaborates on his reservations. Let's see what happens. – Kris Feb 28 '17 at 7:09
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    Perhaps the advisor was focusing on ease of readability. You could improve readability a bit by removing ", we". Or by adding adding "As" at the beginning. There's nothing inherently wrong with beginning a sentence with "Advocates". – iMerchant Feb 28 '17 at 8:35
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    I think you should include the sentence that comes before. On this sentence alone, I'd be tempted to start it with "As advocates, and non-advocates of change, we ..." because it makes more sense, it's not about grammaticality but about making sense. – Mari-Lou A Feb 28 '17 at 9:21
  • P.S I had not read iMerchant's comment or suggestion before adding my comment, and we're saying the same thing. – Mari-Lou A Feb 28 '17 at 9:23
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    "Advocates of change" is a noun phrase, and refers to a general idea of people who campaign for a change in the laws, rights, beliefs etc of a system. You group this with people who don't want to change/modify the system, (which seems a bit odd to me), by placing the pronoun "we" you are including both yourself and the reader in these two categories. Thus I would begin my sentence with Be we advocates of change, or not, we must show... Or simply eliminate the "we" in your original sentence. It works better. – Mari-Lou A Feb 28 '17 at 12:01

There's no reason why you might not start a sentence with Advocate or Advocates as a single or plural noun. However, it would be improper to start a sentence with the same words as a verb.

"Advocates will meet at 5pm to ratify the agreement." would be okay.

"The committee has formed a plan. Advocates five of the proposed changes." would not be correct despite being understandable as an informal note.

  • I completely agree, hence, why I do not understand his reasoning. In my case, it is in fact, a plural noun. – PhixIT Feb 28 '17 at 8:16
  • I think you mean you do NOT understand his reasoning? There's nothing grammatically wrong with the way you started that sentence. Perhaps the problem somehow lies in the context? – Mike C Feb 28 '17 at 8:18

I think that your sentence is correct. While I do not know what your advisor thinks, I assume he sees a "poetic-like" structure of the sentence (as I do). It may be just a tad more "academic" to say:

We, advocates and non-advocates of change, must show reconciliation towards the rightful owners.

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