I've been paid to write things – as a journalist, copywriter, cartoonist, and language strategist for over 20 years. And in that time, the question I reckon I've been asked the most is 'can you really start a sentence with and'. This website is, in part, an attempt to not have to have that conversation so often. There are so many more interesting things to talk about.
It's weird, when you think about it, that this little stylistic admonition has wormed its way so deeply into the minds of so many people. We first hear it at school. But, well, we're told lots of things at school, and we forget, dismiss or reassess almost all of it. Funny how this one sticks.
I think people ask it because they have a sneaking suspicion that it's a load of old cobblers. (The intonation people most often use is 'is it really true that you can't start a sentence with and...?') And it's possible that what they're asking – what we're all asking, perhaps – is 'is it true that all rules are but fictions and we are all, if we so choose, masters of our own destiny?'
Or perhaps not.