One of the lessons we all learned (I assume) in school was to not begin a sentence with a conjunction. And and but are for connecting elements within a sentence, but not for connecting actual sentences. I’m guilty of teaching this ‘”rule” as well. I definitely encouraged students to avoid using conjunctions to start sentences. So why do teachers do this? Let’s look at what conjunctions actually do.
Conjunctions connect. That’s their main job (think back to the School House Rock video). Conjunctions link elements of sentences together, but I’d argue they also connect related sentences together.
One type of conjunction is the coordinating conjunction. These conjunctions are the most common, and they work to connect two equal parts. Here are some examples: I like coffee and tea. I hate olives, but I love olive oil.
Fun fact: coordinating conjunctions are the FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet so).
Another type of conjunction is the subordinating conjunction. These conjunctions join a subordinate clause to an independent clause. We use subordinating conjunctions when we write more complex sentences. These conjunctions go at the beginning of the subordinate clause, which can be either at the beginning or the middle of a sentence. Here are some examples: Although I hate olives, I love olive oil. Before you go, take out the trash. We’ll ride our bikes to the restaurant, unless it rains.
Lastly, there is the correlative conjunction. These conjunctions are pairs that work together, like not only . . . but also. Again, these words work together to show the relationships in the sentence. Correlative conjunctions show that each part is equal. For instance, I want both salt and pepper on my salad. There are lists of pairs that you can search up online if you want more details on what other pairs there are.
What’s the rule?
There are no rules when it comes to starting sentences with conjunctions. Often you’ll see advice that too many conjunction sentence beginnings becomes repetitive. But just remember, what is the function of a conjunction? They join things together. So if you are finished writing a sentence, and you want to connect the next sentence to that idea, you can use a conjunction. And it will be a correct sentence.
Unless your company or business has a style guide that says not to use conjunctions to start sentences (especially coordinating conjunctions), then using conjunctions as sentences starters is all a matter of style and choice. If your choices make sense and adds to your voice, go for it! And don’t be afraid to experiment. Happy writing!