And Another Thing . . .

I still see many grammarians warning hapless new writers of the horrors of beginning any sentence with “And” or “But”. Well I am here to tell you, my pedantic friends, that while the product of the hapless masses may well be wrong, SO ARE YOU for claiming this to be a rule.

These constructions have long been been considered solecisms, on par with the double negative (which, when combined with the dialectical “ain’t” is the quintessential modern English incarnation of the solecism, or “gutter speak” corruption of language. But when it comes to actual correctness of the prefatory “and” or “but”, it depends.

On the one hand, it is certainly wrong to begin a sentence with a conjunction. However, it is not wrong to begin a fully independent sentence with a word or phrase that communicates the useful information that it will further develop points made earlier. And so it is that these words can appear at the beginning of a sentences without acting as a solecistic conjunction.

But of course, such words can also signal a change of rhetorical direction clearly and more concisely than a longer phrase such as “On the other hand”. Such a usage clearly is not intended to conjoin two independent clauses into a sloppy construction, and makes the writing more concise and varied.

And so my friends, I do not fear the “And originated sentence”, and I do not accept the authority of any self-appointed grammarian to tell me not to use it. I am, after all, a reader as well as a writer, and the pedantic enforcement of this “rule” has done much, over the last century, to confound and confuse the unwary.