Don’t start a sentence with “or”. Or should you?

Many writers and editors give a murmur of discontent if they see a sentence beginning with a conjunction, like “or”, “and”, “but” or “so”, but should they?

A conjunction is a word used to connect words or clauses in a sentence, so it’s not difficult to see why some people wince at it. After all, why would you begin a sentence with a word that refers back to the sentence before it?

At Words of Worth, we tend to advise writers to avoid it, both for consistency across projects and to avoid messy passages like the ones below, which could be worded better as one sentence:

“That looks like a rabbit. Or it could be a hare.”

“I waited in all day. But the package didn’t arrive.”

Skilled writers might be able to start sentences with words like “and” and “but” and come up with something snappy and flowing – see this BBC Sport report on an international football match for an example – but to avoid “fragment” sentences that don’t function without the sentence before, it’s advisable to leave them out.

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