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Because, Because, Because

I’ve been asked the same question twice within a week, so here I am, happy to clear up a misconception.

Question: Isn’t it unacceptable to start a sentence with the word because? I learned it was wrong.

Short answer: It is acceptable to start a sentence with any word you want.

Longer answer: Yes, it’s perfectly fine to start sentences with because. In fact, it’s a good idea when you want to vary sentence structures, create transitions, and write smoothly.


You have been a valued customer for seven years, and we are very grateful for your business. Because we appreciate our relationship with you, I want to personally explain a change in our delivery policy.

The clause beginning with because ties the idea in the first sentence to the idea in the second sentence. Beyond that, the two longish sentences (one compound, one complex) flow rather than sounding staccato. The because clause improves the flow.

Apparently, the silly rule against because beginning a sentence is an attempt by teachers to discourage young students from writing fragments:

I don’t have my homework. Because it blew out of my notebook.

The because question reminds me of a lyric in The Wizard of Oz, which I have written incorrectly as a fragment:

We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of oz. Because, because, because, because, because–because of the wonderful things he does.

That’s exactly the thing teachers are trying to stamp out.

If you have been hesitant to start a sentence with because, forget that misguided rule. It’s perfectly okay.

Because of some best-forgotten problems with our web sites, this blog was down for several days. Thanks to Kathy and Christine for checking in on me.

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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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