‘But you can’t start a sentence with a conjunction,’ primary pupil writes to children’s author

The TES is reporting that a primary school pupil has written to a children’s author to ask her why she has started a sentence with a conjunction.

Joanna Nadin is a children’s author who has published more than 50 books. She writes speeches. She goes into schools and talks to children about writing…

But she has also committed, in the eyes of the national curriculum, an unforgivable sin: she has started a sentence with a conjunction…

.. one of her primary-aged readers has written a letter to advise her of it.

“Dear Joanna,” the letter states. “In your book The Stepmonster you start a sentence with the word and. We have been taught not to start with a conjunction. Why have you done this on page 5?”

“Part of me loved it,” Ms Nadin tells TES. “The pedant that I was and am has learnt the rules of grammar, and has to enforce them from time to time.

“But this is no longer a rule anywhere but in schools. There’s no reason not to start a sentence with a conjunction.

“I’m in no way having a go at the teachers who have to teach this. It’s the absurdity of it being on the national curriculum…”

More at ‘But you can’t start a sentence with a conjunction,’ primary pupil writes to children’s author


But do we still need to teach children the rules, even if we encourage to break them sometimes?

And do let us know where you are more broadly on the debate over grammar rules in school…

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Categories: Primary and Teaching.


  1. Nairb1

    Many of the conventions of grammar Gove, Gibb and others have imposed on schools exist only in their pompous minds. A generation of pupils is suffering from their view that writing is best undertaken in a straightjacket of silly rules.
    ‘And so we came, along a passage, into a comfortable sort of room where a young lady and a young gentleman were standing near a great, loud-roaring fire.’
    Sorry Mr. Dickens, beginning a sentence with ‘And’. You’ve failed your SATs. Go away and re-write Bleak House.

  2. It’s OK when it makes sense in the context of a story but when it becomes so prevalent that every single sentence spoken on TV begins with ‘So’ I just want to scream! Stop it!

  3. thiskidsthinkin

    Language evolves! It always has! Otherwise, we would still be using words like thou and thee. As long as a sentence makes sense, let a child use their imagination and write however they want in a story. The next JK Rowling is sitting in a classroom somewhere having their imagination limited by having to follow these rules.

  4. There is no rule which says a sentence can’t start with a conjunction.  That’s one of those shibboleths shafted by Oliver Kamm in his book ‘Accidence with Happen’.  I review Kamm’s book here http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2015/05/oliver-kamms-english-usage-guide-poleaxes-the-pedants-gove-admired

  5. The refrain of Gove and Gibb:
    ‘In short, in matters pettifogging, pedantic and stentorian, 
    I am the very model of a modern day Grammarian.’http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2015/06/i-am-the-very-model-of-a-modern-day-grammarian-sings-ex-education-secretary-michael-gove

  6. Philip Warren

    An accident waiting to happen, of course. Real achievement in English is more than following the rules. If a measure of attainment might be considered the variety of punctuation a pupil has demonstrated then George Orwell would have no chance.

  7. Philip Warren Neither would Ernest Hemingway famous for his pared-down, short sentence.  He would lose marks for not varying the length of his sentences.

  8. Bwjenterprise

    SchoolsImprove and Churchill said, “This is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put.” The kids is right but…

Let us know what you think...