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And


“And now, here’s Groucho,” said George Fenniman, introducing the host of the game show You Bet Your Life in the manner of all game show moderators. But this time at least Groucho would not be so introduced. “What do you mean, Fenniman? You can’t begin a sentence with and. What kind of show do you think this is?” Groucho’s mock indignation only points out the difficulty of grammatical rules like the one asserting that sentences beginning with and or but express incomplete thoughts and are therefore incorrect. But it is Fenniman and not Groucho who has history on his side, for writers from Shakespeare to Joyce Carol Oates have used and and but to start sentences. When members of the Usage Panel were asked whether they paid attention to the rule in their own writing, 24 percent answered “always or usually,” 36 percent answered “sometimes,” and 40 percent answered “rarely or never.”


 

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