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Can you start a sentence with 'and'?

The short answer is: yes. However, it is more complicated than that.


The two uses of 'and'

In a list


The first use of 'and' you will learn is that it shows the last item in a list.

I have an apple and a pen.
I have an apple, a pen and a camera.
I have an apple, a pen, a camera and a t-shirt.

As a conjunction


'And' is a co-ordinating junction. It joins:

  • Two clauses

  • Of equal importance

  • The clauses make sense on their own


What is a clause?


A clause is part of a sentence which makes sense on its own.

I like dogs

is a clause because it has a subject and a verb.

She likes cats

is also a clause.


Equal importance & Make sense


The two ideas are equally important. They both make sense on their own.


Using 'and'


We can join the two clauses like this:

I like cats and she likes cats.

What about this?

I like cats. And she like cats.

You cannot use 'and' to start a sentence like this. Why?


You are told in English lessons to NEVER start a sentence using 'and'. Using 'and' to start a sentence comes from using it in every day spoken English. It is not 'grammatically' correct.


When can I use 'and' to start a sentence?


A full stop (.) is used to mark the end of a thought. It is where the speaker / reader pauses. If we take the above example:

I like cats. And she like cats.

the speaker pauses after the first clause. In reality, they wouldn't. The second clause is not surprising, or something they may have forgotten. Why pause?


'And' is used to start sentences when:

  • The 'and' clause is related to the first clause

  • The 'and' clause is exciting / interesting / noteworthy; or

  • The speaker forgot the 'and' clause and needs to add it on

Examples

I went to the supermarket and saw Jenny. And she has a new boyfriend.

Starting the sentence with 'and' shows that the 'and' clause is surprising and forgotten, so the speaker pauses before it. Look at the same sentences below and see the difference.

I went to the supermarket, saw Jenny and she has a new boyfriend.
I went to the supermarket, saw Jenny. She has a new boyfriend!

In the second example, there is a new sentence but the missing 'and' shows that the speak knows they are going to say the second sentence when they start the first.

 
Bangkok was amazing! I ate great food, the weather was gorgeous and there's loads to do. And so cheap!

Here, the speaker is talking about their holiday to Bangkok. They list three things they liked. The 'and' clause is added as it noteworthy.

 
You should definitely take out the loan and pay back your parents. And that credit card bill.

Here, the speaker is advising someone to do two things. The third thing has been forgotten so added at the end. It starts with 'and' because it is related to the first sentence.


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