And …

Some editors and writers have a rule against starting a sentence with “and” or “but.” These are two of the coordinating conjunctions, which you can remember with FANBOYS:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Many usage experts say that it’s perfectly fine to start a sentence with “and” or “but” (or any of the other coordinating conjunctions). You should probably not use this construction over and over, though.

If you do start a sentence with “and” or “but,” do not put a comma after the words, as in this sentence: But, we wanted to know what to do next. You don’t need a comma after the “but” in that sentence.

However, if an interruptive word, phrase or clause appears after “and” or “but” at the beginning of a sentence, you might need commas to set it off. Here is an example: But, if I may say so myself, this is a fine piece of writing.

In general, do not put a comma after a coordinating conjunction.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.