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Is it ok to start a sentence with also?

Also, I had given him the file you sent me.

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This reminds me of that scene from "Curb your enthusiasm". A conversation with Mel Brooks. "How do these things work, Andreas?" And he said, "Or you got it or you ain't." I said, "You're Greek, Andreas. We don't start sentences with 'or' in America." –  Chris Dowdeswell Jan 11 '12 at 9:40
    
@JSB: Why did you delete word-order? Not that it matters to me, but I don't understand. –  Cerberus Jan 11 '12 at 18:06

7 Answers 7

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Certainly, it is correct to begin a sentence with also. All adverbs (also inclusive) can be used at the beginning of a sentence with the proper punctuation. For instance, the first sentence in this answer begins with an adverb. Other examples are:

  • Furthermore, we have exhausted all the other options.
  • Definitely, you can use my car.
  • Surely, he could do better.
  • Besides*, she had my number and could have called.

*Note that Besides is used here as an adverb not a preposition.

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It is capable of what? –  Ben Voigt Jan 11 '12 at 4:35
    
@Ben: Oops! I meant It can be used to begin a sentence but I realize now that is not a direct answer. Should have been Certainly, it is [correct, blah blah blah] Thanks for the heads up. –  Jimi Oke Jan 11 '12 at 6:06
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-1 I don't think this is a balanced view. There is no rider about 'continuing a line of thought' [cf. Eduardo], 'marked feature of uneducated speech' [cf. Cerberus] or other exceptions. Unqualified OK to its use? –  Kris Jan 11 '12 at 6:31
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The point is, one can have a grammatical sentence beginning with an adverb. Context is irrelevant. Some like it; some do not. I maintain, however, that is perfectly correct to do so. Inelegant, maybe, but not ungrammatical. –  Jimi Oke Jan 11 '12 at 6:39
    
Why do you think the OP was asking about grammaticality in the linguistic sense? He seemed to be asking about both grammar and style to me. // And why should the same rule apply to all adverbs? To me, also is a special adverb. –  Cerberus Jan 11 '12 at 18:09

It is correct as long as you are continuing a line of thought, but you should limit its use to an informal register. Formal register, however, will require you to use a more sophisticated alternative such as Furthermore, to name one.

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+1 This is more like it. I think even Furthermore or similar alternatives would be no better where Also doesn't sound right. –  Kris Jan 11 '12 at 5:17
    
"Furthermore" is harder to use in a non-clumsy way. It's common in the sort of bad business-writing where writers strive to convince the reader they are smart, at the expense of not actually conveying anything else. Not that it can't be used well, like anything else, but it shouldn't be used where "And" or "Also" will serve well. If needs must, perhaps copy Shakespeare's example of starting with "And furthermore", where the clear "And" starts the thought while the "furthermore" underlines that the point is additional. –  Jon Hanna Jul 10 '12 at 10:34

As noted by other commenters, some writers prefer to avoid "Also, .. " in formal writing. But there is one use of 'also' at the start of a sentence which is in fact more prevalent in formal than in informal writing: namely, Also + adjective. Example:

  • Also important is the pursuit of wealth and economic growth and power.

This uncommon syntax is called "fronting'.

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Burchfield in Fowler's Modern English Usage advises against it. He says it is now quite frequent, but still a "marked feature of uneducated speech".

I have always disliked it myself; a sentence can easily be recast to avoid it. I see it a lot, even in academic writing; but it is still considered informal or uneducated by some (it is hard to estimate their number, but they are probably a small minority); so, if you want to please traditionalists, don't use it. If formality and style are not your primary concern, don't bother trying to avoid it, and rest assured that most people would use it.

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+1 Folks, perfect grammatical sentences can also have some "marked feature of uneducated speech". So, check, always. –  Kris Jan 11 '12 at 6:28
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Burchfield would have found much of my college-educated acquaintance to be uneducated, apparently. In addition to the academic writing you cite; those writing the academic papers must be uneducated as well, to Burchfield's mind. –  sq33G Jan 11 '12 at 10:42
    
@sq33G I wouldn't worry about it, he'd apparently find Fowler's writing to be uneducated too. –  Jon Hanna Jul 10 '12 at 10:41

Yes.

Also, it's fine to start a sentence with And, But and many other words (mostly conjunctions) that some people are convinced they shouldn't start with.

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But sentences starting with And, But and many other words (mostly conjunctions) will mostly apply to informal registers, like this one. However, Furthermore and However will turn your uneducated writing, by definition, into an educated one, like this one! Considering, of course, that educated people like to yell from time to time. –  Eduardo Jan 12 '12 at 8:01
    
@Eduardo my educators valued poetry over count of syllables, and would consider And and But to serve more sentences better than However and much better than Furthermore. –  Jon Hanna Jan 26 '12 at 16:13
    
I've butted heads with some who were convinced that you shouldn't start a sentence with a conjunction, but they've never fully convinced me that it's always wrong. I've seen plenty of quality writing start a sentence with "but," particularly when discussing two sides of a complex issue. –  J.R. Jul 9 '12 at 3:32
    
@J.R. Some of the greatest writing does it a lot. I believe a lot of it starts from teachers trying to restrain young pupils writing "And then we went to the park. And then I played on the swings. And then my friend came. And then we had burgers for lunch...." with the result that correction of an over-use becomes a "rule" people believe in. Ironically, Eduardo above suggests "However" is okay despite there being further "rules" against that, though it's another zombie-rule really. That said, overuse of it will read even worse than overuse of other sentence-starting conjunctions. –  Jon Hanna Jul 9 '12 at 7:45
    
I just realized, you started your sentence with a conjunction, and ended it with a preposition! Was that intentional, or accidental? Either way, it's classic! +1 –  J.R. Jul 9 '12 at 23:38

This usage is very much correct. Especially when you are continuing the sentence from the other person.

Let's look at an example conversation:

Person A: John has taken more than one hour now, to get the medicine from the store. I even made sure he got the right direction.

Person B: Also, I had given him my car to drive, so that he can reach quickly.

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Also, Person B: "Plus, I had given him my car to drive, so that he can reach quickly." -- in contemporary speech. –  Kris Jan 11 '12 at 7:44

As always, it's not a matter of what's correct, but rather of what works in a given context. Starting a sentence with also may be effective for some communicative purposes, but not for others. It just isn't possible to give a single answer to such a general question.

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protected by tchrist Aug 13 at 14:33

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