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Thread: Random Thought Thread

  1. #31341
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Dear native speakers,

    do you consider it a mistake to begin an English sentence with 'about', for instance: "About his teacher he had no illusions"?
    Yes.

    "He had no illusions about this teacher".

  2. #31342
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    Quote Originally Posted by Il Morto Che Parla View Post
    Yes.

    "He had no illusions about this teacher".
    How about the words such as 'and' and 'but'?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riva View Post
    How about the words such as 'and' and 'but'?
    It's grammatically incorrect, so should not be done in an academic or formal text.

    But some sentences like that may be ok in a "literary" or "journalistic" text under the rules of "poetic licence", seeking to imitate popular speech. Depends on the particular case. (see, that last sentence I used was grammatically incorrect, it should have started "IT depends" - but in this context that is ok because we are speaking colloquially and it sounds natural)

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    Il Morto Che Parla, you are wrong.

    It is perfectly fine to being a sentence with "and" or "but," as long as what follows creates a complete sentence.
    http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/senterm.htm

    Delightful little essay on "but."
    http://grammar.about.com/od/grammarf...entencefaq.htm


    Example:
    Correct: I brought my books. And I brought my papers.
    Incorrect: I brought my books. And my papers.

    It is also correct to begin a sentence with "about." The only correction to "About his teacher he had no illusions," is that a comma should go after "teacher."
    "About his teacher, he had no illusions."
    http://grammar.about.com/od/basicsen...dvclauses2.htm

    "He had no illusions about his teacher" would be the more usual way to write that sentence, but inverting it does not make it wrong, and inverting sentences in that way can be very effective rhetorically.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetoric

  5. #31345
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    Well English is very unstructured and has unclear rules, not like other languages. But:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiltyred View Post
    Il Morto Che Parla, you are wrong.

    It is perfectly fine to being a sentence with "and" or "but," as long as what follows creates a complete sentence.
    http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/senterm.htm

    Delightful little essay on "but."
    http://grammar.about.com/od/grammarf...entencefaq.htm


    Example:
    Correct: I brought my books. And I brought my papers.
    Incorrect: I brought my books. And my papers.
    Maybe in literature, like I said...but you couldn't write this way in a formal text, i.e. legal, academic, business, medical.

    It is also correct to begin a sentence with "about." The only correction to "About his teacher he had no illusions," is that a comma should go after "teacher."
    "About his teacher, he had no illusions."
    http://grammar.about.com/od/basicsen...dvclauses2.htm

    "He had no illusions about his teacher" would be the more usual way to write that sentence, but inverting it does not make it wrong, and inverting sentences in that way can be very effective rhetorically.
    Maybe that's more correct than the "and", example but I said no because it sounds terrible in the example given. It sounds like it was google translated from Spanish.

    Like I said in some literary context maybe you could use it for effect, but it sounds un-English and in a formal text, the example I gave should be used.

  6. #31346
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    There are a lot of conventions that are generally perceived as correct or are preferable in certain contexts. Being perceived as correct or being typical of a certain style is different from actually being correct, though. There's nothing incorrect about beginning a sentence with "about," just like there's nothing incorrect about ending a sentence with a preposition or splitting an infinitive. I would still avoid those things if possible, especially in formal writing, because people tend to mistakenly believe that they are incorrect.

    Now, for the specific example you gave, Nicodemus, I would not write the sentence that way and I would change it if I encountered it as an editor. I find it stylistically awkward. But again, that's different from being incorrect.

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    Alchemist of life Array Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Dear native speakers,

    do you consider it a mistake to begin an English sentence with 'about', for instance: "About his teacher he had no illusions"?
    As I was taught, it is OK to start with a preposition ("In the summer, we go to the beach."). It is not OK to start with a coordinating conjunction, e.g. and, or, but. This was considered grammatically incorrect, but could be done in creative writing for effect. I do it sometimes when I want an intentional abruptness in the sentence.
    Hope is the denial of reality. It is the carrot dangled before the draft horse to keep him plodding along in a vain attempt to reach it. We should remove the carrot and walk forward with our eyes open. -- Raistlin Majere

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    Gloooooooorrrrrriooooouss bitch!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    As I was taught, it is OK to start with a preposition ("In the summer, we go to the beach."). It is not OK to start with a coordinating conjunction, e.g. and, or, but. This was considered grammatically incorrect, but could be done in creative writing for effect. I do it sometimes when I want an intentional abruptness in the sentence.
    It's "okay" (meaning not incorrect) to begin sentences with "and" or "but," but the writer should be aware that the reader might disapprove. If you need to maintain perfect formality for some reason, you can avoid it if you want to. It's not wrong, though.

    You should also not use the personal pronouns I/me/you in very formal writing, but that doesn't make the use of those personal pronouns incorrect in English.

  10. #31350

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    Thank you, native speakers!

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