And/But

Creature from the Sun

Senior Member
Russian, K-Paxian
Could you please help me with this.
And:
1. I like apples, and I like bananas, too. [These 2 clauses are independent, so we should put a comma, right?]
2. I like apples. And I like bananas, too. [Is it okay to start the sentence with "and"?]

And also - related to "but":
3. I have a brother, but I don't have a sister. - Are these 2 clauses independent? (I think, they are). So, should we put a comma in this context?
4. I have a brother. But I don't have a sister. - Is it okay to say like this? [Split the sentence into 2 parts and start the second one with "but"?]

Thanks!
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    According to traditional English grammar of the 19th century, you should never start a sentence with a conjunction such as "and" or "but." People who follow that rule would rewrite your example (4) as "I have a brother. However, I don't have a sister." That's correct, but "but" is shorter and stronger than "however." Changing it to "however" weakens the contrast. Therefore, most grammar authorities in 2018 (and probably in 2019, next week) allow writers to start a sentence with a conjunction for emphasis.

    What you should not do is start a sentence with a subordinating conjunction such as since, while, when, and many others. That type of conjunction connects a main clause to subordinate clause in a sentence such as "I will help John because he deserves it." It must go between the clauses.
     

    pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Could you please help me with this.
    And:
    1. I like apples, and I like bananas, too. [These 2 clauses are independent, so we should put a comma, right?]
    2. I like apples. And I like bananas, too. [Is it okay to start the sentence with "and"?]

    And also - related to "but":
    3. I have a brother, but I don't have a sister. - Are these 2 clauses independent? (I think, they are). So, should we put a comma in this context?
    4. I have a brother. But I don't have a sister. - Is it okay to say like this? [Split the sentence into 2 parts and start the second one with "but"?]

    Thanks!
    Hello,

    You should know that there are differences of opinion when it comes to the proper use of commas. What makes sense to me is to use them sparingly in situations where it will help your reader digest the flow of information more easily.

    Because your examples are so short I would not use any commas, except at the end, before too:

    I like apples and I like bananas, too.

    I have a brother but no sisters.

    As for starting sentences with And and But, you shouldn’t do it in formal writing. But if you’re striking a casual tone it’s okay.
     

    Creature from the Sun

    Senior Member
    Russian, K-Paxian
    Therefore, most grammar authorities in 2018 (and probably in 2019, next week) allow writers to start a sentence with a conjunction for emphasis.

    What you should not do is start a sentence with a subordinating conjunction such as since, while, when, and many others. That type of conjunction connects a main clause to subordinate clause in a sentence such as "I will help John because he deserves it." It must go between the clauses.
    Thank you Egmont!
    So, if I stick (I believe, I should do so :) to the modern grammar, all the sentences [1,2,3,4] are correct (including commas, conjunctions usage, etc), write?
    And, as I understand, if [since, while, when, ...] are conjunctions , we can't start a sentence with [since, while, when, ...]. However, if [since, while, when, ...] are adverbs, we still can, right?
    Thank you!
     

    Creature from the Sun

    Senior Member
    Russian, K-Paxian
    Hello,

    You should know that there are differences of opinion when it comes to the proper use of commas. What makes sense to me is to use them sparingly in situations where it will help your reader digest the flow of information more easily.
    Thank you pachanga7!
    So, can we say that theoretically all 1,2,3,4 could be right (commas, but/and usage), however weird a bit (in some contexts)?
    At the same time:
    - it's also possible to omit commas in 1 and 3;
    - it's better to say "I have a brother but no sisters.";
    - it's better not to start a sentence with "but", "and", "or"?
     

    Creature from the Sun

    Senior Member
    Russian, K-Paxian
    Thank you pachanga7!
    So, can we say that theoretically all 1,2,3,4 could be right (commas, but/and usage), however weird a bit (in some contexts)?
    At the same time:
    - it's also possible to omit commas in 1 and 3;
    - it's better to say "I have a brother but no sisters.", however "I don't have a sister." also works;
    - it's better not to start a sentence with "but", "and", "or"?
     

    pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I wouldn’t say that your versions could be “right” but simply that it’s a matter of style. A novelist, or a screenwriter, might choose to put in those commas for their own reasons, primarily to cue the reader to give it a certain emphasis as they read. But for most intents and purposes the extra commas detract because they slow the reader down unnecessarily in the wrong places. As readers we don’t need to be cued as to whether the clauses are independent of each other or not.

    Also, I don’t think I have to tell you that these examples you are giving us are not very naturalistic. Not many people are going to phrase things exactly as you’ve written them, so in the end I’m left wondering who you are trying to please, and what it is you are hoping to get out of this conversation? Please don’t be offended, I’m just unclear on the value of seeking rules on commas, especially when you seem to want permission to ignore my previous advice.
     

    Creature from the Sun

    Senior Member
    Russian, K-Paxian
    Also, I don’t think I have to tell you that these examples you are giving us are not very naturalistic. Not many people are going to phrase things exactly as you’ve written them, so in the end I’m left wondering who you are trying to please, and what it is you are hoping to get out of this conversation? Please don’t be offended, I’m just unclear on the value of seeking rules on commas, especially when you seem to want permission to ignore my previous advice.
    Dear pachanga7!

    As for me, I speak English every day in my work environment - all my colleagues (and students) understand me perfectly. No doubt, I clearly understand them as well.

    Yes, the sentences I wrote above may look weird and not very naturalistic :) The fact is, all these stuff is for my little daughter who started learning English (in a non-English environment) just 4 moths ago. She is just 7 (so I don't want to give her an impression that learning English is a big deal) and she has just 2 classes every week (I do my best to help her develop her English).
    So, the factors I try to take into account are:
    1. Her textbook (the authors of which put comma before "and" / "but", etc; they also start a new sentence with "And" / "But", ...).
    2. Her English teacher requirements (which are related to the textbook).
    3. Naturalistic (say, common English, that people use in their everyday life, not "that-very-official", if possible).
    4. Balance between American and British English (if it is possible to find a "universal sample" - that would be great). All the words in the textbook have British spelling ("colour", "dialogue", etc), however that actors who read all the dialogues on the CD have a kind of American pronunciation.
    I would be grateful if you help me find that "universal clue" to my question.
    Thank you for your kind help!

    P.S. That would be also very good, if you give me your valuable opinion about my written English and style.
     

    pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Ah! The fact that you are trying to navigate teaching materials for your 7-year-old daughter makes a world of difference!

    I wouldn’t worry about commas at all, then. You can leave them in the examples you’ve given. She can be taught to start sentences with And and But, but if she ever gets to the high school and college levels she’ll have to learn to eliminate such constructions by substituting for them with things like “However” and “Moreover” or else combining and restructuring in other fun ways.

    I’m not sure how you balance BE with AE (and with the English they speak in India, and in Australia, and in Jamaica, and in the Phillipines) except perhaps by exposing her to a variety of sources over time. As she eventually focuses her use of English to a particular context or contexts I think she’ll adapt and pick up those dialectical differences spontaneously. Personally I have a huge mix of regional influences in my other professional language (Spanish) and do not keep them entirely separate. It’s good to be able to recognize and work with a variety of accents and colloquialisms as an interpreter. Perhaps I might have tried to limit my inputs to only Mexican Spanish, or Colombian Spanish, or Castilian Spanish as spoken in Spain, in order to keep my own output more pure so to speak, but it just didn’t happen that way.

    Your English is very good and I don’t doubt that you communicate well at work.
     
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