English Grammar And Writing

Start a Sentence With Because or However

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You can start a sentence with 'because' or 'however,' but you have to know how to do it right. This lesson will walk through how to start with these transitional words but still make sure your sentence is complete.

Starting Your Sentence

The most simple and traditional way to start a sentence is with the subject, the noun that is doing the main action, as in this sentence:

Joe drove to the store.

Joe is our subject because he's doing the action ('drove'), and he's also the first word in the sentence. Easy peasy. So then we should just always start sentences with the subject, right? Well, you could do that, and it would be grammatically correct if you did, but, most likely, no one would want to read your writing, because it would be super boring.

Sentence variety is the spice of life, or at least writing life, so not every sentence should have that simple subject-verb-object formulation. However, there is a lot of confusion about the right and wrong way to begin sentences. Because of a mixture of outdated advice and grammatical confusion, many people get nervous when they don't start a sentence with their subject.

Two common causes of anxiety and even dinner table arguments are the words 'however' and 'because.' Some people will insist to their dying breath that it is grammatically incorrect to start sentences with these words, but most linguists and grammarians disagree. In fact, I started sentences with both words in the last paragraph, did you notice? Did it feel 'wrong' for me to do that? Probably not. So, let's figure out why.

However

Some old-school grammar books will tell you not to use 'however' at the beginning of sentence as a connector or transition with the previous sentence. However, most modern grammarians disagree with them. Using 'however,' followed by a comma, clearly means 'nevertheless' and makes a useful connector when you are stating something that disagrees with the previous sentence. In fact, I just used it again in the second sentence of this paragraph. The old-school grammar books would tell me to rewrite that sentence like this:

Most modern grammarians, however, disagree with them.

How is that better? The 'however' now breaks up the main idea of the sentence, and it isn't clear right away that I'm disagreeing with the previous sentence. However, putting 'however' at the beginning of a sentence makes it serve as a 1-word introductory phrase, a group of words that serves as a transition or sets the stage for the main clause of a sentence, such as:

In Arizona, the population has grown exponentially over the past several decades.

That's why the comma is important, as you always want to put a comma between your introductory phrase and the main clause of your sentence.

Because

A similar dynamic is at work when using 'because.' Grammar teachers often say not to use 'because' at the beginning of sentence because they think you'll do this:

Because the population of Arizona has grown exponentially.

This is a sentence fragment because the 'because' has made this a subordinate clause, a group of words that includes a subject and verb but can't stand alone as a sentence. The 'because' implies some sort of cause and effect, but there is none described here, so it's just left hanging. However, subordinate clauses can be used as introductory clauses, which, as the name implies, are pretty similar to introductory phrases. So check this out:

Because the population of Arizona has grown exponentially, the state is facing a severe water shortage.

The part after the comma is an independent clause, which can stand on its own as a complete sentence, so now our 'because' clause is serving to introduce it.

  Umbreen Aleem   Sunday, 29 Dec 2019   17 Views

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