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Is there any rule you think is valid that discourages the use of a certain word to start a sentence?

Because I suspect the answer is no.

But it would be good to have a blanket answer to this kind of question.

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I upvoted this question. Because you used two such sentences in the question. And it is a pretty unique question. –  pkaeding Sep 10 '10 at 16:04

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Well, with certain words it's simply impossible to start a grammatical sentence: one such word that comes to mind is "ago". It always comes after other words (e.g. "one hour ago"), never at the beginning of a sentence or clause.

[Before someone points it out: note the use-mention distinction. A sentence like

'Ago' is a word you cannot start a sentence with.

starts with the word "'ago'" and not with the word "ago".]

But if your question "Is there any valid rule discouraging the use of a certain word to start a sentence?" (emphasis mine) implicitly restricts attention to words that can grammatically start sentences, then it's not clear what it would take for a rule that discourages something grammatical to be "valid". Certainly there exist people who disapprove of certain words starting sentences for their own idiosyncratic reasons, such as the "but" I started the previous sentence with. Are these "rules" valid? I wouldn't consider them valid, but I don't know what valid means to you. :-)

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I think even "ago" can be used in a sentence in speech, if the speaker simply said "ago" to clarify that something occurred in the past. I can't think of a good exmaple of that dialogue, but would that count? –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Sep 8 '10 at 20:03
How about 'Per se', it can precede words but I can't think of a grammatically correct sentence which starts 'Per se'? –  osknows Jun 27 '11 at 0:33

The past tense of many verbs make no sense as the first word in a sentence: 'went', 'tried', etc., unless it's in a context where sentence fragments are OK: 'Where you been?', 'Went to the shops'. 'Ago' is a particularly nice example because it wouldn't even work in an informal sentence fragment.

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+1 for flagging up those past tense verbs, and for admitting they can work in contrived contexts. I must admit I'm surprised no-one's come up with anything on a par with ago though. I thought of worth, but I don't think that really cuts it. –  FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 4:03
Close, but you've got things like "Worth more than lard, cheese is also tastier." –  jaybee Jun 27 '11 at 8:10
Ago is still the front-runner then (use/reference issues aside!) –  FumbleFingers Jun 27 '11 at 13:02
"Went the day well?", "Tried, found guilty and hung, the bandit was no more" –  mgb Oct 4 '11 at 20:40
Some verbs do. "Twisted by the dark side, young Skywalker has become." - Yoda :) –  Brian M. Hunt Jan 8 '12 at 19:18

In school we were taught to "never begin a sentence with 'and', 'but', or 'so'". But I do anyway. And so do a lot of other people.

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So, it's OK after all, I suppose. –  Kris Jan 4 '12 at 9:22

Is there any valid rule discouraging the use of a certain word to start a sentence?

There's a rule (can't say if it is valid or not) that numbers, no matter how long, at the start of a sentence should be written out in words,

Seven thousand, four hundred and seventy-six trombones led the big parade

so some people avoid putting numbers there. Also, it's a bit odd to capitalize terms which are computer commands which won't work if they are capitalized:

Ls is how you get a listing of your files

so some people might avoid putting those terms at the start of sentences.

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Because is also another word that you should not start a sentence with.

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Because of you, these things I do. –  delete Sep 9 '10 at 13:26
According to the people who say that, a word with which you should not end a sentence is with. –  ShreevatsaR Sep 10 '10 at 4:56
Care to explain why, other than "because someone said so"? –  R. Martinho Fernandes Oct 13 '10 at 8:33

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