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And here we go.

Not long ago our teachers warned us never to start a sentence with a conjunction. They actually meant never start a sentence with a Coordinating Conjunction.

Coordinating conjunctions are the following:

F = for

A = and

N = nor

B = but

O = or

Y = yet

S = so

The differ from subordinating conjunctions through their use.  Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect phrases or clauses as follows:

Main Clause, <coordinating conjunction> Main Clause

Main Clause <coordinating conjunction> Phrase

For example:

  • They could not each, for the cupboard was empty.
  • He walked across the room, and sat in a chair.
  • He can’t sing, nor can he dance.
  • She likes oranges, but hates orange juice.
  • I will either choose history or biology.
  • I’m nice to him, yet he still doesn’t like me.
  • I got tired, so I left.

 

Note that you insert a comma when joining clauses, not phrases. If you see a verb in the second clause then add the comma.

As you can see, with Coordinating Conjunctions the clauses are emphasized equally.

When using clauses for subordination, the main clause has more emphasis than the subordinate clause .

Main Clause <conjunction> Subordinate Clause

Sub Clause, <conjunction> Main Clause

For example:

  • I said I’d go with Jane, and Mike agreed he’d go with Kelly <- Coordinate
  • I said I’d go with Jane if Mike agreed he’d go with Kelly. <-Subordinate

 

Now that we’ve gotten that our of the way, back to the original premise: should we start sentences with a Coordinating Conjunction?

The answer is: sometimes. While it’s often better not to, starting sentences with conjunctions can emphasize a point. But if you start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction then don’t include a comma unless an interrupter immediately follows it. So, although you shouldn’t do it often, starting coordinating conjunctions are allowed.

Keep these things in mind when you’re thinking of starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction:

  • Make sure that the main clause follows the coordinating conjunction.
  • DO NOT use a coordinating conjunction to begin every sentence UNLESS you are intentionally trying to create a flow of ideas in this manner
  • DO NOT use a comma after the coordinating conjunction UNLESS an interrupter immediately follows it

Why shouldn’t you use coordinating conjunctions to start a sentence? If not done correctly, your work will turn out choppy, and you are likely to create obvious sentence fragments or run-on sentences.

When in doubt, remember that you can always rewrite the sentence to not start with that conjunction:

But I still wanted to eat it.

Can be:

  • However, I still wanted to eat it.
  • Still, I wanted to eat it.
  • I still wanted to eat it too.

 

And I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Can be:

  • Also, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
  • In addition, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
  • Furthermore I enjoyed it thoroughly.

 

I hope this helps with your writing!

 




One Comment

  1. I actually used the FANBOYS acronym today for an English assignment, and I’m sure I’ll be using it in the future! 😀 Thanks!