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I am French speaker, writing my (physics) PhD dissertation in English. One of my supervisors read it and mentioned that 'beginning a sentence by "indeed" is not correct or at least not natural'. What do you think?

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    It's as natural (or unnatural) as starting an utterance with "Yes." Which could be perfectly natural in the right context, but it's hard to see how either Indeed or Yes could be the first word in the first utterance of a new conversation. Both words kinda need a prior context to make sense. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 12:14
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    There is nothing incorrect about it. Indeed, it's perfectly acceptable when giving additional support for a statement you have just made. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 12:18
  • I've spent the last couple of minutes trying to think of other words that it's difficult to imagine being used as the first word in a conversation-starter, and I'm a bit surprised to realize I can't come up with even one in the same league as Yes and Indeed. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 12:21
  • Even a near-synonym like Truly is easily incorporated into something like "Truly life-changing experiences aren't very common, in my opinion". And I've no real problem with "Definitely hot today!" (eliding initial It's). Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 12:25

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Caveat: My answer is from the point of view of American English.

Indeed, indeed at the start of a sentence is quite unnatural if "natural" is understood to mean "frequently used in spoken English by the man on the street". It is somewhat "fusty" even in academic writing, where it occurs fairly frequently just as you have used it at the start of a sentence.

It is an emphatic expression, normally used to indicate that what follows next is a fact that is in perfect alignment with your argument.

The conductor has little operatic experience. Indeed, over his career of thirty years he has conducted only one, L'Italiana in Londra.

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  • You'll hear it used all the time "down my boozer"!
    – BillJ
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 18:40
  • @BillJ: I'm not familiar with the phrase "down my boozer". We say "down the shore" to mean "at the beach", and I'm thinking that "my boozer" might refer to a favorite pub? (I've added a caveat to my answer.) Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 19:11
  • American English or British English or any standard English, it's all the same.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 22:19
  • @Lambie You comment is too vague for me to make much sense of it. What is "it"? Are you saying that AmE and BrE usage of "Indeed" by the "man on the street" is the same? And I don't mean exclamatory "Indeed, I do" but the emphatic argumentative use, where a (sometimes fairly involved) statement of fact follows upon it. Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 19:00
  • @TimR Yes, I am saying the use is the same in all standard varieties of English. And I don't think the man on the street matters here. This expression is usually used in writing or spoken (as in a speech) by people with a college education.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 21:40
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French has an entire style of expository writing where the sentences are laid out with certain conjunctions when presenting an argument, and the term "en effet" (indeed) is used in many cases after a previous sentence to emphasize or extend an idea.

Sentences in a paragraph will be structured with such terms as D'abord (first), Ensuite (next or then) and En effet and at the end of the paragraph, a phrase such as "En conclusion". This is just an example and not intended to be a complete exegesis of this type of French writing.

Be that as it may, in English as in French, you would only use indeed (en effet) to add something to an idea from a previous sentence. It would follow on from a previous thought.

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