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Was my teacher right or wrong?
December 10, 2016
December 6, 2016
Have you ever had a teacher tell you that you shouldn't start sentences with because? I have.
"I wanted to let you know how much my children have enjoyed Get Smart. They both think it's fun. I think the videos are their favorite part."
Was My Teacher Right or Wrong?
In third grade, Mrs. Andersen taught me that I should never start a sentence with the word because. Is that correct, or was dear Mrs. Andersen wrong?
Dependent Clauses & Independent Clauses
First, we need a refresher on clauses. Clauses are groups of words that contain a subject and a verb. There are two types: dependent clauses and independent clauses.
Dependent clauses don't express complete thoughts. If they're used all by themselves, they are only sentence fragments.
because I was thirsty
Independent clauses express complete thoughts.
I drank three bottles of water.
Dependent clauses need to be connected to independent clauses in order to form complete sentences.
I drank three bottles of water because I was thirsty.
Can You Start A Sentence With Because?
Because is a subordinating conjunction. Subordinating conjunctions introduce dependent clauses. They also join the dependent clause to the independent clause.
Contrary to Mrs. Andersen's instruction, it can be okay to start sentences with because. When you do, you're starting a sentence with a dependent clause. Just make sure that your dependent clause is followed by a comma and an independent clause or you'll most likely end up with a fragment rather than a complete sentence.
Because it was cold, I wore my warm coat.
What Should She Have Done?
If Mrs. Andersen would have let us start sentences with because, students probably would have been handing in papers with sentence fragments, and she would have become very frustrated.
In order to teach the class how to correctly start sentences with because, she would have had to teach us about subordinating conjunctions, dependent clauses, and independent clauses.
If students are already familiar with clauses, conjunctions, and other grammar topics, it's much easier to teach them nuanced writing rules like this. If they're not, it can be almost impossible.
It's understandable that Mrs. Andersen didn't want us to start sentences with because since we didn't know enough about grammar to do it properly.
However, instead of teaching us that it was never okay, perhaps Mrs. Andersen could have told us that starting sentences with because is something that we'd learn to do later, after we knew more about grammar.
And then, of course, we should have had grammar lessons that taught us these concepts and more!
Would you like to learn more,? You'll find these pages helpful.
Are you an educator? Feel free to use this information with your students. About Elizabeth
Elizabeth O'Brien is founder of www.GrammarRevolution.com, a company devoted to helping people learn and love grammar.
Through her website, books, and programs, Elizabeth shows people how to teach and learn grammar the easy way. She's on a mission to inspire and motivate people by making grammar fun and friendly.
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