christmas book wishes

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sat Dec 27 14:30:26 EST 2003


Robyn replied to me:

>>If it were "And, thingy" or "But, thingy", I might have to disagree with
>>her, because those two *always* jar on me.  I have no idea whether there is
>>any good grammatical reason not to use them; I just don't like them.
>
>There is. "And" and "But" in this context are co-ordinating conjunctions,
>so technically, they create sentence fragments unless there is an attached
>independent clause preceding them. "So" is slightly different because in
>that case it may be argued to be carrying a different grammatical function
>(it can be a co-ordinating conjuntion). Technically it is an error, some
>style guides argue that And at the beginning of a sentence can be used
>sparingly to create a faster paced flow to a piece of informal prose. I
>disagree. I think every time I see these conjunctions they can be deleted
>without harming meaning.

I'm so glad to have a reason given for what I had slightly assumed was just
me being niggly.  It isn't something one can easily look up unless one
happens to know its name!  Thank you.

I do know people who would argue cogently that if there is a semi-colon in
a sentence it should not be followed by "and" or "but", for much the same
reasons: they assert firmly that the bits on either side of the semi-colon
ought to be able to stand alone as sentences in their own right, and
therefore should not have "and" or "but" at the beginning any more than a
sentence should.

Heinlein, when "And" at the beginning of a sentence (well, of a chapter)
was pointed out to him as a stylistic grumble regarding his work, pointed
the grumbler to the King James translation of the Bible.  (I expect he
snorted, too, but since he was writing a letter it is something I will
never know for certain.)  "And it came to pass in those days, that there
went out a decree from Caesar Augustus" is the first of 39 out of the 52
sentences in the second chapter of Luke to start with the word "And".

All I can say to that, honestly, is "Eeek."

None of 'em has "And comma", though.  :-)

Minnow


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