Use of 'And' as the first word of a sentence

9

Can I write:

We need to have a deep sense of morality. And moral science teaches us morality.

But I was told that I should not use that full stop. But I am not clear. I know its a conjunction but can we use it this way? Can we use it as the first word of a sentence?

Kirti

Posted 2017-04-02T12:39:54.213

Reputation: 1 061

4Your sentences are good. That "rule" is something an old fogey dreamed up. However, starting a sentence with And adds a little drama and vitality to the writing. In some kinds of writing, drama and vitality are out-of-place. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-04-02T13:15:36.407

@Tᴚoɯɐuo: That's right! – HeWhoMustBeNamed – 2020-03-02T01:07:35.303

Answers

8

It is perfectly all right to begin a sentence with a conjunction. It is a special form of emphasis, used to elevate a clause to a position of more influence and importance.

I hold that all beets are red. And I will stick to that belief until you show me a green beet.

We were tired, hungry, and exhausted. But we were home.

It can also be used as a summation of previous statements.

[Blah blah blah ... fairy tale or fable ... blah blah] And that is how the elephant's nose grew into the long trunk it has today.

Oxford Dictionaries Online calls the rule against starting a sentence with a conjunction a "myth" and states that

[P]erfectly respectable writers employ this disputed usage, and have done since Anglo-Saxon times.

In sum, this is just one of many shibboleths about English that you can safely ignore.

Robusto

Posted 2017-04-02T12:39:54.213

Reputation: 13 739

Huh. Did not know this usage of shibboleth. I was about to correct you but did some research first. Learned something new – Kevin – 2017-04-02T19:26:32.477

1

The so-called rule that forbids starting a sentence with a conjunction is obsolete and nonsense. This is what I found in American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Styles.

Certainly, starting a sentence—even a paragraph—with and can have a dramatic effect, calling attention to the increased significance of the sentence

However, your example is still not a good writing. You should follow a principle called end focus. According to this principle, new information should appear at the end of a sentence. So I think it's better to use a passive contruction for the second sentence.

We need to have a deep sense of morality. And morality is taught to us by moral science.


EDIT : As StoneyB points out, the moral science could be old information—or even the main topic— in the entirely discourse. But without a larger excerpt, it cannot be confirmed. If so, then an active construction is still fine.

We need to have a deep sense of morality. And it is moral science which teaches us morality

user178049

Posted 2017-04-02T12:39:54.213

Reputation: 7 435

1I suspect that in OP's context 'moral science' is old information--quite possibly the primary topic of his discourse--and what's new is that what moral science does is *teach* morality. . . . But even if your parse is correct, a better way of putting this is in the active voice: "And it is moral science which teaches us morality". The standard new info position is not "the end of the sentence" but the focus of the predicate. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2017-04-02T13:18:41.063

@StoneyB I agree with that, but what I can say is that the repetition of the same word(morality) at the same position(at the end) makes it sound badly. – user178049 – 2017-04-02T13:25:34.673

@StoneyB And without a larger excert from the discourse, I think it's hard to confirm that the science is old information. I'm still figuring out a better way to construct this sentence. – user178049 – 2017-04-02T13:32:38.390

1We don't know the context; but I cannot agree that repetition is inherently infelicitous. Avoiding repetition and 'elegant variation' are generally scorned in English rhetoric. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2017-04-02T13:36:39.117

0

If you have to ask the question on English Language Learners, do not begin a sentence with a conjunction, especially "and". It is incorrect to do so, and until you are thoroughly fluent, you are better off not guessing when it might be okay to break that rule.

That said, there are plenty of examples of leading conjunctions in classic and modern literature, most notably the King James Bible.

fectin

Posted 2017-04-02T12:39:54.213

Reputation: 359

The Old Testament of the King James Bible (which is where most of the "And" sentences are) is a translation from a language which had no punctuation marks, and barely had any concept of "sentences" either. In the original language, the "ands" functioned mainly as "markers" between the sentences and clauses, but the religious beliefs of the translators presumably prevented them from simply ignoring all the "ands" in their translation, as is often done in modern translations. – alephzero – 2017-04-02T19:09:10.263

@alephzero Yes, 'vav' apparently indicates a tense change, and 'and' is a mistranslation. But right or wrong, the KJB is so foundational to modern English that it's very hard to say that anything in there is bad English. The rules describe it; it doesn't follow them. – fectin – 2017-04-03T22:46:29.573