I’m going to be honest with you, there are some grammar rules that I really don’t care about. Actually, there’s a lot of them. Really, most of them. That being said, sometimes it’s important to know and follow the rules, because other people care about them no matter how silly they are.
And so, today, we are going to examine one of the sillier rules of grammar: whether you can or cannot start a sentence with “because”. A lot of people will say that you can’t start a sentence with “because” and be using “proper” grammar. While it is true that starting a sentence with “because” is usually “incorrect”, it’s only because it results in an incomplete sentence. Thus, sometimes you can start a sentence with “because” and still be in the clear. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
“Because” is a subordinating conjunction. A subordinating conjunction is a word that joins two clauses, one of which is independent and one of which is dependent. I know that’s a lot of jargon, but basically what we’re looking at is this: we have a sentence with two parts, and “because” joins them together. The two parts have to be in the same sentence for the use of “because” to be “correct”. Otherwise, one of the clauses becomes a sentence fragment, which is a problem.
The reason you can’t usually start a sentence with “because” is because the sentence needs two parts for because to join together. Usually, “because” goes in between the two clauses, so if we start a sentence with “because” there is often only one clause in the sentence. Put simply, if “because” is in a sentence, the sentence needs two parts to be “correct”. Let’s look at an example.
We decided to go to the pool because it was hot outside.
The two clauses we are looking at are “We decided to go to the pool” and “it was hot outside”. “Because” links them together and makes them friends. Let’s look at what would happen if we were to split the sentence up into two.
We decided to go to the pool. Because it was hot outside.
Now that the two clauses are in different sentences, “because” can’t really join them together. The clauses can’t be friends and now they’re lonely, making the second sentence “incorrect.”
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. There is a circumstance in which we can start a sentence with “because” and not be violating any silly rules. If we start a clause with “because”, then insert a comma, and then a second clause, then both of the clauses are in the same sentence and everyone is safe. As an example:
Because it was hot outside, we decided to go to the pool.
Since both of the clauses are in the same sentence, they aren’t lonely and the sentence is technically “correct”.
So, there it is. Those are the circumstances under which you can and cannot start a sentence with because. It’s definitely a silly rule, and it’s not one that I would personally be strict about. That being said, I hope this was informative. If you want some more information, here are some resources that may be able to explain it a little better than I did:
- Grammar Girl: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/can-you-start-a-sentence-with-because
- Oxford Dictionaries: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/01/can-i-start-a-sentence-with-a-conjunction/
- Writers’ Digest: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/questions-and-quandaries/grammar/can-you-start-a-sentence-with-because