Can You Start a Sentence With ‘And’?

Can You Start a Sentence With ‘And’?

Apr 30

Starting a sentence the right way is important in any writing endeavor. It helps to solidify the rest of the paragraph, and so keep you grounded as you move on to tie everything together.

Despite this, the term “right” is often subjective in English. Because of the prominence of slang, changing trends in the language, and especially the loose rules when it comes to expression in free form creativity, what is “right” might not always be the same for everyone. It makes it tricky to give a clear set of guidelines when it comes to where to use certain words, as long as they apply to the overall context.

‘And’ is a really good example of this problem. Normally, it is a conjunction which is used to tie two concepts together. It unifies a sentence, tying together words, phrases and clauses. It isn’t really meant to stand alone, and so putting it at the beginning or end of a sentence would seem like an obvious no-no.

But there is a great deal of confusion when it comes to the use of ‘and’ as a sentence opener. We learn early on that it should never be used to begin a thought. Yet it is still so often applied that it has become a rule ignored for the sake of conveying a sentence in the way it appears in our minds.

The ‘And’ Rule

Getting this out of the way: no, you cannot use ‘and’ to begin a sentence when using proper English rules in writing. It is a conjunction, and so is only meant to be used in that context. Applying it to the beginning of anything may make it appear to be a fragmented thought or an incomplete sentence.

That being said, a lot of people say you cannot use ‘but’ or ‘however’, among other words, to begin sentences. These, like ‘and’, are often rules completely ignored by writers.

Look Versus Sound

The issue is that while it might look fragmented, sometimes using ‘and’ just sounds right. We often write according to the way the words flow within our minds, and the reader will end up experiencing it the same way. That flow can shift on the slightest change in writing form, and so many writers will ignore the basic laws of grammar and lean more toward the creative side of the field.

This means that they will start sentences with ‘and’ in order to form a complete thought that sounds more punchy, like an incomplete sentence. An example would be:

“She promised him that for as long as she lived she would never love another man as she had him. And she never did.”

Technically, the second sentence is incomplete. But the flow of the words would be interrupted if it were changed to fit the rule.

Conclusion

This is a hard one to say. If you are going by the book, no, you cannot start a sentence with ‘and’. If you are writing an essay or something similar, I would stay away from it. But if you are writing creatively, whether with the main text or the dialogue, I personally feel that it is one rule you can ignore.