Sunday , December 3 2023

No Ands or Buts About It

I have a pet peeve – I get very annoyed when people start a sentence with a conjunction. In a world filled with many serious issues and pressing problems, conjunctions may not seem to matter, but they have important functions in sentences. They are meant to join words, clauses, or sentences but should never be used to start a sentence.

Teaching introductory English classes at the college level, I have seen the many different ways people can mangle our language over the years. Sometimes it is carelessness to the point of absurdity; other times it is obvious that they have had insufficient preparation in their previous twelve years of schooling, and it breaks my heart. No matter the reason why a student commits this sacrilege of misusing the language, I have been more or less lenient in taking off points for this transgression; furthermore, I have faced the grim task of trying undo what has or hasn’t been done with these students: no easy task I can assure you.

In my current role as an editor at Blogcritics Magazine, I have found great pleasure in being exposed to some fantastic articles by writers in many different genres. I am so fortunate to have this opportunity because I am reading about so many things on so many levels that I would never have been able to do before. Over all, this has been an extraordinarily positive experience.

I do notice one thing lately that is bothersome. A number of writers are starting sentences with conjunctions. “But” and “And” are the most often used, and it is happening with such frequency that I am wondering why. I did encounter this once a number of years ago in a freshman class, and upon researching things, I discovered that many of the students had the same English teacher in high school. The perpetrator had been found in that case, but what is happening here and now?

While I have seen this done even in print and online magazines, it still bothers me a great deal. I guess I can’t accept the idea of starting a sentence with a conjunction because it is a “conjunction” that is supposed to connect something. The good sisters of no grammar mercy in my Catholic school really hammered home many lessons, and this is one of them: You never start a sentence with a conjunction!

I know technically that it is not improper to start a sentence with one of the seven: and, but, or, yet, for, nor, so. Still, every time I see it done, it drives me bonkers.

And I will feel better if I just let this go. Or maybe I never will. Yet now I think I understand. For I know it’s a far, far better thing not to worry about. Nor should I care anymore. But I know that I do. So there, I said it!

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. 'Heartbeat and Other Poems,' 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. His newest books 'The Stranger from the Sea' and 'Love in the Time of the Coronavirus' are available as e-books and in print. After winning the National Arts Club Award for Poetry while attending Queens College, he concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose until the recent publication of his new book of poetry, 'Heartbeat and Other Poems' (now available on Amazon). He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written many articles on a variety of topics; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society and Flash Ficition editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.

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