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A lot of times my sentences start with "And" and "But" and they tend to run long. I read a lot of news articles and blogs and have not seen many sentences starting with conjunctions, but I don't seem to get the trick of how to avoid it.

English is my second language.

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Suggest relocating this question to Writers.SE. –  MετάEd Jul 9 '12 at 23:36
    
This question doesn't really belong here because there's no right answer to it. You are correct that starting a sentence with a preposition (such as "and" or "but" is considered bad style, but your question is too general for people to be able to provide a useful answer. –  Christi Jul 9 '12 at 23:40
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@MetaEd: I concur. As is often the case when the fundamental answer is "proofread and revise," this does seem to be more of a writing question than an English question. –  J.R. Jul 9 '12 at 23:40
    
alright, how to move it to writers SE? –  C-x C-t Jul 9 '12 at 23:41
    
It's a stylistic element, just as fragments. And, honestly, I like to use both. Not necessarily in the same sentence, though. But here and there. –  sjg76 Jul 10 '12 at 0:46
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closed as off topic by MετάEd, Christi, rudra, Daniel, David Schwartz Jul 10 '12 at 1:02

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2 Answers

If you don't want to start sentences with conjunctions, you are free to do so.

A simple way to do it would be simply to stop using and, but, and or to connect clauses or phrases. Connecting words, between two words, or before the last of a list of words, OK:

  • I saw Bill and Bob at the picnic.
  • I saw Bill, Bob, Ben, Mary, and Sarah at the picnic.

But not

  • I saw Bill and Jen saw Bob but they were both with somebody else, or maybe they were alone, and ....
  • He arrived on time, but then he went back to the car and got a gun, or talked to somebody, and ...

There's nothing wrong with these sentences, mind you. They're perfectly normal, the way people talk all the time. But if that's the way you talk, you probably don't want to write that way; as you say, it goes on and on. And it's good practice to try something else.

So take your time and try to become aware of conjoined clauses. A good exercise is to write each clause as its own sentence. Then figure out how they should be arranged to get your ideas across. Without conjunctions.

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If you're conjoining two independent clauses, you can replace the conjunction with an adverb or adverbial phrase.

  • And → Additionally, | Also, | Furthermore, | Likewise, | Moreover, | etc.
  • But → However, | Nevertheless, | On the other hand, | etc.

I read a lot of news articles and blogs and have not seen many sentences starting with conjunctions. However, I don't seem to get the trick of how to avoid it.

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That advice is like "use long words in place of short words" and can add to the problem instead of ameliorating it. –  jwpat7 Jul 10 '12 at 16:46
    
I don't believe I've ever seen an edit where adding "however" or "nevertheless" to the beginning of a sentence made it better. –  nohat Dec 10 '13 at 1:02
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