Donnerstag, 30. Juni 2011

And at the beginning of sentences...

Heute ein Beitrag von Aleksandra Subic - Trainee aus Kanada

In defense of AND
Time after time, we’ve had customers come back to us with: “you can’t start a sentence with ‘and’…can you?”

There’s no denying it – we Crellins are quite fond of starting sentences with the infamous ‘and’. But, are we simply taking artistic license? Or, can we put our conjunctions where our mouth is?

Who’s right?
The naysayers may have the cautionary words of their third-grade teachers on their side, but we have something better – The Chicago Manual of Style (not to mention The Times, the BBC and others).

Here is what the Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers has to say on the subject:

“There is a widespread belief – one with no historical or grammatical foundation – that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but or so. In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions.”

Still not convinced? Then, let’s consult another well-respected authority on all things English grammar – Merriam-Webster.

“Everybody agrees that it’s alright to begin a sentence with and, and nearly everybody admits to having been taught at some past time that the practice was wrong. Most of us think the prohibition goes back to our early school days. Baily 1984 points out that the prohibition is probably meant to correct the tendency of children to string together independent clauses or simple declarative sentences with ands: “We got in the car and we went to the movie and I bought some popcorn and…”

Trust the classics
According to Merriam-Webster, ‘and’ can be found at the head of many a memorable sentence in Shakespeare’s King John (act iv, scene 1), the Gospel of St. John, xxi: 21 and other well-thumbed works.

‘And’ in the 21st century
OK, how about some contemporary examples? Can some leading newspapers and magazine finally put the debate to rest?

“Al-Qaeda is a Saudi-Egyptian alliance that was formed to topple the Saudi and Egyptian regimes and others like them. And this is why bin Laden’s death comes at a particularly bad moment for the movement he launched.” (Time magazine, 20 May 2011, page 46)

“The odds are that Serbia will get candidate status but a date to start talks may be too much to hope for. And, besides, while the arrest of Gen Mladic is a huge obstacle removed from Serbia's path, it is not the only one.” (BBC online, 27 May 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13578432)

“Like national governments, sporting bodies […] also raise revenue and redistribute wealth. And they are prone to poor administration and to rent-seeking.” (The Economist, 26 May 2011, http://www.economist.com/node/18744271)

And that is enough!
So, there you have it folks – we don’t just do it because it’s cool, it’s also perfectly acceptable. Still, many commentators advise against overusing ‘and’ at the head of a sentence since it really can be too much of a good thing. And it really packs a punch when used sparingly. If you feel like you’ve moved past grade school grammar, than let ‘and’ lead the way.

1 Kommentar:

Librarian hat gesagt…

(Shouldn't it be "...then let 'and' lead the way"? - Sorry, you know what I'm like with my old Korrekturlesertrainiertes Gehirn...)
Such a relief to know that something I use relatively often is really OK! (Not that anyone has ever complained about my 'And...' sentences)