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Can You Start a Sentence with “And” or “But”?

In our business writing classes, people often want an answer to this burning question:

Is it acceptable to begin a sentence with the word and or but?

The answer is yes. It is perfectly acceptable to start sentences with the conjunctions and and but. However, it is slightly informal. If formality is your goal, choose more formal language.

Graphic illustrating if it is acceptable to being a sentence using "and" or "but". It is acceptable to start a sentence with these conjunctions, however, it is slightly informal.


  • But we hope to write an agreement today.
    (no comma needed after but)


  • However, we look forward to writing an agreement today.
  • Nevertheless, we look forward to completing the agreement today.


  • And Clare knows how to write a good report.
    (no comma needed after and)


  • In addition, Clare is skilled in writing reports.
  • Furthermore, Clare is a skillful report writer.
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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

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