When I start a sentence with 'but' I realize that I make a mistake, however in thousands of textbooks I can see native English writers starting their sentences, even paragraphs, with BUT without any problem. I do'nt know either the grammer changed or people simply do not follow rules!

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Interesting that there are quite the same rules in English as well.
I (German) was always told never to start a sentence with "als" (when), I also know many people though, who do anyway.

This is "just" a matter of style.
Some kind of "unwritten rules" (as we'd call it) to avoid inaccurate ways of beginning a sentence.

So it is not a (grammatical) "mistake" to start a sentence with but, though you should avoid it as a matter of style.
The "but rule" in English IS a written rule (not a natural / logical rule) .... which is why it is so pervasive. It has been systematically taught down the ages. But in real life, people DO start with but. And they also start with the forbidden "and" too, for that matter!
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That's interesting, I didn't know it is a fixed rule so far in English...
I wonder how old this rule is...

I'm a bit more careful than other people with these kinds of rules anyway, esp. when it comes to stylistic questions rather than grammatical ones.

As "rules" generally have been created to represent a (set-up) standard, they do not allow language to develop - which can be a problem sometimes.
Also keep in mind that "standard" hardly reflects the way language is actually used, neither does it reflect the way language was used that time the standard was set.
I sooner regard the standard "carefully(!!)" as a sort of guidelines, not actual rules.
This "rule" came about a hundred years ago when grammarians tried to force rules on the language. Impossible, of course, as language changes through time and you can't stop it in mid flight and turn it into stone.

So, of course you can start a sentence with BUT. Or AND. Or almost anything!

But, I'm afraid what you can't do is spell GRAMMAR with an E!Emotion: smile


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Hi Henry,
thanks for backing me up - although I guess you didn't know you did, as your entry has been posted just a few seconds after mineEmotion: smile
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I have been told, though have never actually read it myself, that the bulk of the prescriptive "rules" we follow today - were penned by Bishop Lowth, in his massively influential : Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762),

hence you will find Shakespeare writing things which you think are "ungrammatical" especially "odd" comparatives and mulitple negations, cos the grammar was written after the plays!

I agree with what you both say about "standards" - it is a very interesting debate!
I think the classic is a split infinitive which I believe is not allowed in Latin Grammar and hence the Victorian proscriptive grammarians decided it shouldn't be allowed in English.


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indeed that is the "theory" behind the split infinitive rule Emotion: rolleyes

I'd heard that Lowth said it years before any Victorians, though!
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