I had an argument with a colleague the other day (well, it was a sort of friendly discussion with 'emphasis') on the use of 'And' in starting a sentence, as in...

"And taking the bit between his teeth, the author responded..."

For years this argument has gone to and fro, with many simply stating that 'you cannot start a sentence in English with 'And...

I decided to turn to the great wordsmiths for an answer...

...When William Butler Yeats (WB Yeats) was asked to edit the Oxford Book of Modern Verse in 1936, he rewrote Walter Pater's discussion on the Mona Lisa written in 1893, bringing into modern mainstream English prose, the emphatic used of 'And' to start a sentence...

She is older than the rocks among which she sits;

Like the Vampire,

She has been dead many times,

And learned the secrets of the grave;

And has been a diver in deep seas,

And keeps their fallen day about her;

And trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants;

And, as Leda,

Was the mother of Helen of Troy,

And, as St Anne,

Was the mother of Mary;

And all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes,

And lives

Only in the delicacy

With which it has moulded the changing lineaments,

And tinged the eyelids and the hands.


Yeats defined and re-defined the Mona Lisa by contrasting 'She has been dead...

with 'And learned the secrets of the grave....

Nine times he used And to start a sentence with, and I think he gave us poetic and prosaic permission from then on to start a sentence with 'And....


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