I don't know if this question really has an answer, but it's been bugging me for a while: When did it become fashionable to start sentences with the word "which"?

Here's a short example:

I drove straight home after work. Which means I didn't stop for groceries.

These two sentences could easily be combined into one sentence with a comma between them.

Here's a longer example that seems to occur in almost every magazine article:

The president on Wednesday ordered a massive bomb strike against the rebel stronghold in an attempt to drive them out of hiding, killing hundreds and creating protests around the world. Which won't look good in the November election.

Are writers trying to be fancy? Is this a new writing style that's being taught?

  • One sentence with a comma would not carry the same meaning. The second sentence here is an afterthought. Spoken aloud, there would be a pause before it. Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 17:50

2 Answers 2


In fiction and informal writing, sentence fragments can be used stylistically for a particular effect.

Some writing actually sounds better because of it, although that can be a matter of personal opinion—both on the part of the reader and the author.

However, that shouldn't be taken to mean that it's technically grammatical.

They key to "breaking the rules" for effect is knowing what's grammatical—and making a conscious decision to do something ungrammatical anyway, with an informed understanding of the result.

It's when you write something ungrammatical without knowing you're doing so that you're likely to run into problems.

Whether or not the author of a magazine article or news story should be doing something like this is subjective (if not, ideally, determined by their publisher's style guide).


The practice goes back at least 2000 years. Scholars of Latin call it a ‘relative connection’. It can be used more widely in Latin that in English because Latin is inflected (it has cases).

‘Which’, in this context is indeed equivalent to ‘and that’, and refers back to a person, thing or action just mentioned: that is, to the fact that the speaker drove home earlier. Compressing ‘and that’ into ‘which’ was a small trick of rhetoric. We don’t expect a sentence to begin with a relative pronoun or adjective, and the unexpected gives weight.

This type of connection could be used in all sorts of ways.

The tyrant deserved his dreadful end. For whose family, kept in helpless ignorance of his misdeeds, I have some limited sympathy.

The Romans of pre-Christian antiquity, mind you, would not have understood the question as put, because they did not use punctuation as we do now. For that had to await the monastic copyists. So whether there would have been a first ‘sentence’ and a follow-on sentence with a ‘relative connection’ is a question that would not have been easily understood. Indeed, in a script without punctuation, it may have forced a pause.

But there are few left who know Latin and fewer still who know it well enough to recognise a relative connection. So the usage has an archaic air and is moribund.

A further question might be whether such an archaism is grammatically incorrect or merely quaint.

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