Beginning a sentence with and or but
And and but are coordinating conjunctions. As you know, coordinating conjunctions are used to connect two independent clauses of equal rank.
- He put on his coat and went for a walk. (Here the coordinating conjunction and connects the independent clauses – ‘He put on his coat.’ and ‘He went for a walk.’)
- She was angry but she said nothing. (Here the coordinating conjunction but connects the independent clauses – ‘She was angry’ and ‘She said nothing.’)
Can we begin a sentence with and or but?
This is a frequently asked question. Although some grammarians might argue that it is improper to begin a sentence with and or but, this practice has been in use since Anglo-Saxon times. In fact, starting a sentence with these conjunctions might create a powerful or dramatic effect.
However, you should consider avoiding an initial and or but in cases where the sentence will do just fine without the conjunction at the beginning.
In some cases, the sentence beginning with and or but and the one that comes before it can be connected into a single compound sentence.
- He soon got addicted to gambling. And that didn’t surprise anyone.
- They abused him. They threw stones at him. But he didn’t protest.
Beginning a sentence with a conjunction is essentially a matter of convenience. It doesn’t make your sentences ungrammatical, but avoid this style if you are writing for an audience who might object to it.