Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Superstitions (4)

 Today: “Never Begin a Sentence with ‘And’ or ‘But.'” o “Next to the groundless notion that it is incorrect to end an English sentence with a preposition, perhaps the most wide-spread of many false beliefs about the use of our language is the equally groundless notion that it is incorrect to begin one with ‘but’ or ‘and.’ As in the case of the superstition about the prepositional ending, no textbook supports it, but apparently about half of our teachers of English go out of their way to handicap their pupils by inculcating it. One cannot help wondering whether those who teach such a monstrous doctrine ever read any English themselves.” Charles Allen Lloyd, We Who Speak English 19 (1938). o “There is no reason why sentences should not begin with ‘and.'” Roy H. Copperud, American Usage: The Consensus 15 (1970). o “There is a persistent belief that it is improper to begin a sentence with ‘And,’ but this prohibition has been cheerfully ignored by standard authors from Anglo-Saxon times onwards.” R.W. Burchfield, Points of View 109 (1992). See GMAU, “and (A)” & “but (A).” Next: “Never Write a One-Sentence Paragraph.” For more information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “If you begin a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’ (and you should occasionally), don’t put a comma after it. You want to speed up your prose with those words, and the comma would simply cancel out any gain.” John R. Trimble, Writing with Style 81 (1975).
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