Can I Start a Sentence With And?


And the answer is. . .

It depends, as much in writing does, on your audience.

When you were in school, your audience was usually your teacher. And teachers are notorious for telling us to never start a sentence with and or but.  And they had their reasons (see what I did there?) Your teachers knew that if they didn?t have that rule, kids would just write one sentence and then another and then one more and then the teacher would get frustrated and come up with that rule.

Because of that, the general rule is that in professional, business, or academic writing, starting a sentence with and is frowned on.

However, in informal or creative writing, starting a sentence with and is perfectly acceptable. After all, many writers do so.  It creates a more conversational tone. And sometimes that is the tone they want to accomplish.  

Starting a sentence with and requires some finesse.  I don?t like the previous sentence, and I would probably revise it so they are connected.  Maybe a better way to answer the question of starting a sentence with and is it depends on your audience and personal preference.

If you don’t want to overuse and, there are some good alternatives.

Alternative 1–Count on the Reader to Infer Two Ideas are Connected

First, often the reader can infer that one idea is a continuation of the previous sentence:

I need to go grocery shopping, and then I need to go home and cook dinner.

The reader can infer that the two ideas are connected:

I need to go grocery shopping. Then I need to go home and cook dinner.

To most reader going shopping and then cooking dinner are logically connected. If you cook dinner and then go to the grocery store, it was ruined somehow, right?

Alternative 2–Connect Ideas With a Semicolon

Another method is to connect the two ideas with a semicolon (;).

I need to go grocery shopping; then I need to go home and cook dinner.

Writers don?t use this method because it seems choppy. However, there is a way to connect two ideas with a semi-colon that will sound natural and make you look like a Master of the Grammar Universe. That way is to place a word such as however, therefore, afterwards in between the two sentences.

I need to go grocery shopping; afterwards, I need to go home and cook dinner.

This kind of connecting word is called a conjunctive adverb, and it?s one of my favorite category of words. It’s one of my favorite ways to avoid starting a sentence with and.

I?ll discuss it in another post. I also have a post where I go over rules for semicolons.

Can You Start a Sentence With And–Bottom Line

Yes, you can start a sentence with and for the right audience. Professionals generally prefer that you be more formal in your writing, but a general audience prefers the personal touch.

Check out my post on how to use commas with and, if you need help with that. Take a quiz on commas to test your comma skills. If you don’t do well, my post about punctuating comma can help you.

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