Can I Start a Sentence With And?
And the answer is. . .
It depends, as much in writing does, on your audience.
When you were in school, your audience was usually your teacher. And teachers are notorious for telling us to never start a sentence with and or but. They feared that if they didn’t have that “rule,” kids would combine half a dozen seconds with and:
I got home and did my homework. And then I went to play outside. And I rode my bike. And then I visited my friend. And then the phone rang and my mother wanted me to come home.
To prevent this, frustrated teachers told students not to start sentences with and.
However, that is not a rule but a guideline.
In professional, business, or academic writing, starting a sentence with and is frowned on.
However, in informal, creative, and quite a bit of writing for the internet, starting a sentence with and is perfectly acceptable. Doing so creates a more conversational tone. And sometimes such a tone best suits the audience and purpose.
If you don’t want to overuse and, there are some good alternatives.
Alternative 1–Count on the Reader to Infer Two Ideas are Connected
First, often the reader can infer that one idea is a continuation of the previous sentence:
I need to go grocery shopping, and then I need to go home and cook dinner.
The reader can infer that the two ideas are connected:
I need to go grocery shopping. Then I need to go home and cook dinner.
To most reader going shopping and then cooking dinner are logically connected. If you cook dinner and then go to the grocery store, it was ruined somehow, right?
Alternative 2–Connect Ideas With a Semicolon
Another method is to connect the two ideas with a semicolon (;).
I need to go grocery shopping; then I need to go home and cook dinner.
Writers don’t use this method because it seems choppy. However, there is a way to connect two ideas with a semi-colon that will sound natural and make you look like a Master of the Grammar Universe. That way is to place a word such as however, therefore, afterwards between the two sentences.
I need to go grocery shopping; afterwards, I need to go home and cook dinner.
This kind of connecting word is called a conjunctive adverb, and it’s one of my favorite category of words.
For help on semi-colon punctuation, check out the semicolons post.
Can You Start a Sentence With And–Bottom Line
Yes, you can start a sentence with and for the right audience. Professionals generally prefer that you be more formal in your writing, but a general audience prefers the personal touch.