JS Tip 430: The Rules V

From the Writing Workshops: The Rules V

We’re continuing our discussion about the rules we learned in high school. This has been interesting.  

A Rule We Learned in High School: You shouldn’t begin a sentence with “And” or “But.” 

Examine your local newspaper.

Or examine The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times (probably the most well-written newspapers in the country).

You’ll find regular examples of sentences that begin with “And” or “But.”

Wednesday’s Times lead article was about Senator McConnell’s withdrawal of the health-care bill. The second sentence—the second sentence—begins—

But when it comes to repealing the Affordable Care Act, he seems to have miscalculated in the first round of play.

“But when . . . .” The second sentence.

But you’ve probably never noticed these before. And that’s the point: they were so smooth and so easy to read they didn’t distract you.

“And” and “But” are conjunctions; they connect ideas. If you start a sentence with “And” or “But,” you’re connecting the ideas in the sentence to the ideas in the sentence immediately before the one you’re writing.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.


Let us know your comments or questions. We love this stuff.

Mark Brooks