I like to begin some sentence with "And", especially when I wrote some stories at Reddit. I have someone there who voluntary fix my grammar, and I noticed that he often fix my sentence that begins with "And". But I found beginning sentence with "And" feels more natural to the context of the paragraph. And there, I did it again, I started a sentence with "But". Oh, and another "And" there. Duh. Is there any rule of how to use incomplete sentence correctly? Or is it a big no no ever after in English?

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    Example dialogues would be helpful. You have to consider why you are adding them when there is no functional purpose.
    – user3169
    May 30, 2016 at 2:48
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    You can start a sentence with conjunctions such as and and but. But doing so doesn't make them incomplete sentences. See this question: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/52239/… But note that it is okay to start a sentence with a conjunction. May 30, 2016 at 4:14
  • @user3169 example dialogues is like the one in my question. I like to start sentence with a "But" or "And" if the sentence is related to the previous sentence, but the sentence is strong enough to to hold its own meaning. And when I also feel that a sentence is too long if I don't break it apart. The example in this comment, I combine the "but" with the previous sentence, but I break the "And" into another sentence, because the sentence after "but" can't hold on its own, but the sentence after "And" can. May 31, 2016 at 1:29
  • @AlanCarmack thanks, it's a great reading. I wasn't aware that similar question has been asked before. I guess I need to look into the archive a little bit more. :) May 31, 2016 at 1:30

3 Answers 3


You will often start sentences with and or but in speech to link back to previous things you said. This is OK because in speech you often don't plan out what you say too far in advance and often need to express new thoughts and relate them to previous things you said.

In formal writing, or a formal speech that you are reading, you have (or should have had) time to plan everything out. So this is less acceptable in such a situation.

And and but are meant to link two things. If one of those things is missing and context cannot fill in the blank then you are

I walked to the store. And there I saw Bobby. (First sentence establishes a context, thus from the second sentence we assume Bobby was at the store.)

I walked to the store. And then I got in the car. (Was the car at the store? Typically a car is in a parking lot. So we are missing details here, unless they were in previous sentences.)

I decided to eat dinner and then go home. (The two things here don't depend on anything outside of the context so it's complete.)

  • Wow, this is a great example of the correct way to do this! Yeah I can see how the conjunction can be used in a correct and incorrect way now. Thanks! May 31, 2016 at 1:35

The proscription against using conjunctions to start sentences (so called "sentence-initial conjunctions", see google makes you look smart) seems to be taught in school in some places, but descriptive linguists don't agree with it. See Initial coordinators in technical, academic, and formal writing for a nice Language Log post by Mark Lieberman filed under prescriptivist poppycock.

  • Yeah, I don't know what to call it, I just know that it's called incomplete sentence. I read a long article about this which emphasise on why starting a sentence with preposition is a bad thing, but I can't shake it off my literacy habit. :D Thanks for the links! May 31, 2016 at 1:32

In school, teachers train students to never start sentences with "and" or "but". However, in the real world, like writing fiction or doing journalism, authors start sentences with "and" or "but". One would likely want to avoid it in formal writing.

  • That's a nice use case example. I will remember to avoid starting sentence with conjunctions in formal writing. Thanks. May 31, 2016 at 1:33

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