I work on a team where everyone has decided that it is incorrect to start a sentence with a subordinating conjunction period. For example they will change the sentence: Based on the system-wide risk assessment, the societal risk for the Lateral is low. to The societal risk for the Lateral is low based on the system-wide risk assessment. They believe that in technical writing (oil and gas) it is incorrect to start a sentence with words like 'if', 'during' 'due to' etc. Is this correct, or preferred?

  • 1
    I don't follow you. Your first example starts with the verb "based", not a conjunction – BillJ May 17 '16 at 17:57
  • Sorry that may be incorrect i was trying to figure out what those words are called and I thought they were called 'subordinating conjunctions' or 'adverbial conjunctions' - basically they have a list of words we are NEVER to start a sentence with such as: based, however, if, due to, where as, etc. Basically always put the independent clause first and the dependent clause second in the sentence. I'm trying to justify why it is okay to do the opposite but struggling to articulate the rationale. – Eleskelly May 17 '16 at 19:29
  • I don't see anything incorrect with your example "Based upon....", but in this example, I'd just follow the guidelines (or the whims) of my workplace; they are not wrong either. – ab2 MonicaNotForgotten May 22 '16 at 2:12

It seems that the choices given miss the point of technical writing. The idea is to be clear and concise. This usually means following standard subject verb object word order. As far as I know, it is not incorrect to begin with a dependent clause, provided the meaning of the sentence is clear.

So my short answer is no, it is not automatically wrong if the sentence does not begin with the independent clause.

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