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As a volunteer tutor I recently noticed that several of my students use coordinating conjunctions to start a sentence. From what I know this is permitted, but often frowned upon.

I am wondering if there are rules about this usage, and also whether these conjunctions are used to provide any particular effect in English essay writing.

Thank you

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The rule, if one is to accept rules as absolute, is to avoid beginning sentences with conjunctions.

This is the recommendation of Warriner and Lunsford, two reliable authorities used in US classrooms.

Like most rules, it is sometimes broken by artists and professionals who know what they are doing. Beginning with a conjunction can add rhetorical weight to the sentence, particularly if the preceding thought is well and succinctly developed.

When my students (US native-speaking, university-bound adolescents) try this, they often achieve a horribly childish polysyndeton effect, and are generally roasted over a slow fire by their instructor.

If one is certain enough in one's convictions to stand up to a fiendish teacher or an unforgiving editor, one may try it. But do so at your own risk.

  • Thank you for your answer and amusing comments. Your last sentence wasn't lost on me either. – user242899 Dec 30 '17 at 3:03

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