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And Another Thing

May 2024
1min read

The material in Peter Andrews’s “How We Got Lincoln” (November) should have been interesting, but the writing style was so choppy that I could not keep my mind on it. Some analysis turned up an interesting fact that may be the source of the problem. Many of Mr. Andrews’s sentences begin with conjunctions—two out of three in the first paragraph, for instance. And a conjunction should not start a sentence, just as a preposition is not something to end a sentence with.

Perhaps I should not single out Mr. Andrews, although his article was the one that provoked my analysis. The practice of starting sentences with conjunctions and the practice of making dependent clauses into sentences do seem to be current fads. There has been plenty of laughter over the current “rule” in magazine advertising that every third sentence must start with and , particularly if the ad is directed toward yuppies.

This is not a crusade for proper English usage. English continually grows and benefits from rule breaking. It just seems that when magazine articles start becoming difficult to read, the fad has gotten out of hand. It is time for the editors to take over.

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