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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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6  
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
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There are no valid rules, including this one. –  Drew Jul 12 at 20:36
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The only hard-and-fast rule I know of is "Never use a preposition to end a sentence with." –  Hot Licks Jul 13 at 1:17

7 Answers 7

up vote 12 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
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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

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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3  
Because of you, these things I do. –  delete Sep 9 '10 at 13:26
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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
    
Because should only start a sentence if it is the beginning of a dependent clause, and an independent clause follows it. You can say, "Because it rained today, I stayed home," but it is not correct to simply say, "Because it rained today." The only time this would be okay is in dialog following a question. Why did you stay home today? Because it rained. This format is short for "I stayed home today because it rained." Some people are confusing shortened replies for full sentences which are not dialog nor question and answer. –  Taomerline Jul 12 at 19:25
    
It's ironic that someone championing a silly rule about not starting a sentence with about, does not care much for the (also silly, but somehow quite popular) "rule" about ending sentences with a preposition. –  oerkelens Jul 12 at 19:39

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

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
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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
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"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

Beginning sentences with conjunctions (and, or, but, etc.) is the same as using fillers (uh, um, er, etc.). They do not serve a purpose to the sentence. They can be removed without disturbing the meaning/purpose of the thought. Conjunctions connect things. They do not stand alone. Now, either people are too confused about that fact or they are caught up in the fact that they pause too much and at the wrong places in a sentence thought.

"Because I suspect the answer is no," should be "I suspect the answer is no."

"But it would be good to have a blanket answer to this kind of question," should be "It would be good to have a blanket answer to this kind of question."

You typed 3 sentences, which should have only been 2 sentences: a question and your answer.

" 1) Is there any rule you think is valid that discourages the use of a certain word to start a sentence? 2) Because I suspect the answer is no. 3) But it would be good to have a blanket answer to this kind of question," should be as follows:

1) Is there a valid rule that discourages the use of certain words at the beginning of a sentence?"
2)I suspect that the answer is no, but it would be good to have a blanket answer to this kind of question."

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The use of And to mean in addition does change the meaning of the sentence and is not just filler. Yes, conjunctions connect things but they can serve to semantically connect the current sentence to the previous one. –  Jim Jul 12 at 19:36
    
We have a word for that: also –  Taomerline Jul 12 at 20:53

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