Tuesday, January 18, 2005

conjunction junction

Being as my blog-readers are a smart and savvy group, probably more than capable of identifying a clause, I'll share my latest grammar struggle with you.

Is it correct to begin a sentence with a conjunction?

Based upon repeated viewings of the Schoolhouse Rock song "Conjunction Junction" I've always felt that since conjunctions join two parts of a sentence, they needed to be in the middle someplace. My advisor (may he live forever) does not allow his students to start a sentence with a conjunction, though his definition is far more eloquent than the one I just gave.

However, I've just been informed by an editor that this is an out-dated rule, one rarely followed today. Is this true? Am I out-of-date?

Words Written: did another big sheet of paper for the wall
Lessons Graded: twelve

7 comments:

John B. said...

And exactly who said that this rule is out of date???

Joe said...

But I love that rule!

TeacherRefPoet said...

I circle it. It's not high on the list of priorities, but it's still wrong. A conjunction creates a dependent clause, and dependent clauses cannot stand by themselves as sentences.

Or just ignore the rule.

Rachel said...

Technically, I think it's not correct. However, when most people start a sentence with a word that typically is a conjuntion it doesn't serve that actual funciton. For example, in Joe's comment above, "but" seems to funciton as an interjection rather than a conjunction.

-Rachel, who tends toward functional descriptive grammar rather than postcriptive grammar, but still has to grade stacks of essays on a regular basis for English majors who will teach this language to our children (misere nobis), and so tries to remember all the rules.

Anonymous said...

There is a disconnect here between written usage and spoken usage. e-writing is much closer to spoken usage (as Joe's and John's comments show). The question comes down to how much of a previous idea should be explicated in the present thought. More formally (and clunkily), Joe's sentence could read, "[It is an out-of-date rule,] But I love that rule!" The first part of the sentence comes from reiterating Lemming's thought. It is amazing to me that an editor (of all people) would be a stickler about championing a more generous interpretation of the rules than those preferred by the writer.

3B2B

Anonymous said...

There is a disconnect here between written usage and spoken usage. e-writing is much closer to spoken usage (as Joe's and John's comments show). The question comes down to how much of a previous idea should be explicated in the present thought. More formally (and clunkily), Joe's sentence could read, "[It is an out-of-date rule,] But I love that rule!" The first part of the sentence comes from reiterating Lemming's thought. It is amazing to me that an editor (of all people) would be a stickler about championing a more generous interpretation of the rules than those preferred by the writer.

3B2B

Anonymous said...

There is a disconnect here between written usage and spoken usage. e-writing is much closer to spoken usage (as Joe's and John's comments show). The question comes down to how much of a previous idea should be explicated in the present thought. More formally (and clunkily), Joe's sentence could read, "[It is an out-of-date rule,] But I love that rule!" The first part of the sentence comes from reiterating Lemming's thought. It is amazing to me that an editor (of all people) would be a stickler about championing a more generous interpretation of the rules than those preferred by the writer.

3B2B