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Coordinating conjunctions

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The word “but” is a coordinating conjunction. Coordinating conjunctions are used to join words clauses, and phrases. Traditionally, It was commonly believed that it is never acceptable to use the word “but” to begin a sentence. This has been disputed and there is much disagreement about this. When English teachers are teaching children about essential sentence structure, they often discourage children from beginning sentences with “but”. They do this to help the children avoid using sentence fragments. Despite this, authors often use “but” to start a sentence and it is generally okay for them to do that. It is a good idea not to do it too much. It is okay to occasionally start a sentence with “but”, especially in fiction writing.

In very formal writing you should steer clear of using the word “but” to start a sentence. In fact, there is a conjunctive adverb (however, moreover, furthermore) that holds the same meaning, for every coordinating conjunction. Using these conjunctive adverbs instead will present your writing as more professional and polished.

So if you find yourself wanting to begin a sentence with “but”, Ask yourself if it is really necessary. Also, consider who you are writing for. If you are an important term paper for a very picky teacher or writing a report for you employer you should not use it. If you are writing a piece of fiction, it is okay, if you think it will add emphasis to your sentence and make sense to your readers.

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