Starting Sentences With “And” or “But”: A Tale As Old As Time

Written by Ross Guberman on April 10, 2023

I’ve written elsewhere about the myth that you can’t start sentences with “And,” “But,” or “Yet.” And (see what I did?) there’s nothing new here. Look below!

Arts and Letters

William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

And to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.

Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea)

But I must have confidence and I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel.

George Orwell (Politics and the English Language)

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own)

But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction—what has that got to do with a room of one’s own?

Justice Holmes

1919 (Schenck v. United States)

But the character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done.

1919 (Abrams v. United States, dissenting)

But as against dangers peculiar to war, as against others, the principle of the right to free speech is always the same.

Justice Jackson

1943 (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, concurring)

And the refusal of these persons to participate in the ceremony does not interfere with or deny rights of others to do so.

1952 (Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer)

But I have no illusion that any decision by this Court can keep power in the hands of Congress if it is not wise and timely in meeting its problems.

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Lord Denning

1963 (Videan v British Transport Commission)

But the children by themselves usually went by the footbridge.

1975 (New Windsor Corporation v Mellor)

But in medieval times it was the place where the young men mustered with their bows and arrows.

1977 (Riddick v. Thames Board Mills Ltd)

Yet the manner of it has reverberated through the Law Courts ever since.

1980 (Rank Film Distributors Ltd v Video Information Centre)

But he was speaking of ship pirates.



Ross Guberman

Ross Guberman

Ross Guberman is the president of Legal Writing Pro LLC and the founder of BriefCatch LLC. From Alaska and Hawaii to Paris and Hong Kong, Ross has conducted thousands of workshops on three continents for prominent law firms, judges, agencies, corporations, and associations. His workshops are among the highest rated in the world of professional legal education.

1 Comment

  1. Otto Stockmeyer on April 11, 2023 at 11:41 am

    Not just sentences. Writers have also started paragraphs, book chapters, and book, movie, and record-album titles with “but.” Here’s proof:

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