February 18 2013

The conjunction question

by Barbie in Grammar

Conjunctions. They’re small, seemingly insignificant words — but hotly debated ones. In addition to linking words and phrases, conjunctions are, from time to time, used as a transition at the beginning of the sentence. This form — the transition — is the one that stirs up a serious debate.

Can conjunctions be used to start a sentence? Well, that depends on who you ask. Here’s our take.

Conjunctions can start sentences in informal writing — emails, blog posts, and even in articles and papers written in an informal tone. In such documents, “and” seems like a more appropriate way to start a sentence than “Furthermore” or “Moreover,” transitions that are far too formal for our increasingly informal writing landscape.

However, conjunctions should not start sentences in more formal writing — academic papers, journal articles, admissions essays, and resumes/CVs and cover letters, to name a few. These more formal, structured documents call for appropriately formal language. In these documents, “However” is preferred to “But;” “Thus” is preferred to “So.”

So (see that informal transition?), there you have it. Carpenter Doc supports conjunctions to start sentences in some cases, but not others. We’re taking a stand.