If ‘and’ or ‘but’ can be a sentence starter?

Many of us, all through our years of education, were taught how improper it is to start a sentence with either ‘and’ or ‘but’. The truth, however, is that there is no grammar rule that prohibits beginning a sentence with these two conjunctions. In fact, this is one of the most common myths surrounding English grammar.

Starting sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’ has been a very old practice (dates back to the tenth century). I’m sure many grammar buffs will hate to use conjunctions to start a sentence because they feel conjunctions create an incomplete thought. But although I am a grammar buff myself, I still don’t mind trying grammar in its variety if it makes sense. (Don’t miss my last sentence that starts with ‘but’ ;).)

Conjunctions are words that join clauses, words, phrases or sentences. When we use ‘and’ or ‘but’ first in a sentence, the reader’s attention is grabbed by the first word and its transitional function. So there’s nothing stopping you from going this way only if you pay some attention.

Is your sentence functioning if the opening conjunction is removed? If yes, don’t use it.
Will your sentence work better if connected to the previous one (the reason why you start your sentence with a conjunction)? Is the idea conveyed in two sentences better through a compound sentence? If yes, combine them.

So you understand the point I’m trying to make here. If the starting conjunction doesn’t help get across the point you’re making, just bid it adieu.

After all, you don’t want to complicate your writing, do you?

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The art of ‘Linking’

SEO - link building

The bond between Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and link building dates back to late 90s. Links are, indeed, connectors between different web pages on the Web.

Writing for the Web is more than just ‘content’. You can write the most-appealing content and design user-friendly web pages; however, if your content lacks links, you are just no one in the eyes of search engines.

A simple strategy that works on the Web is, more the number of links in your content, better the ranking for your web page. But, what is the most-appropriate link? What should be your linking strategy? Are these some questions to which you seek answers?
Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer to these. Every netizen has a different definition and strategy for link building. But there are still some common factors that everyone keeps in mind.

If you ask me, I definitely keep the following factors in mind when I search for good links on the Web.

Link building

Authenticity
The ‘trust factor’ comes into play during link building. Authentic websites rank high in Google and getting a link from any trusted website does half the work! But checking the authenticity of a website (or a web page) is another task. Common sense says that how good or bad a website is can be easily calculated by the links to that website. Another practice is to look for the Google page rank of a website (http://www.prchecker.info/) and link to the one with a high page rank.

Relevance
I’m sure you would not want to link to a beauty website if your website talks about Finance (unless you’re financing beauty businesses :)). Link to a website that very closely talks about the same subject as that of your website.

Anchor text
I would choose a link that includes keywords that closely match my subject rather than a link that merely says, ‘click here’. Another key point in link building is that the hyperlinked text should be informative in itself. And trust me, this helps in increasing the page rank as well!

The content is the key
The crux of any good website is its content. Unless the content on your website is relevant, generating links will be very difficult. In addition to your ‘link hunting’, other netizens should also be compelled to link to your website. And this happens only when the content on your website is relevant and possesses high quality.

Well, these tips should be good to start. But, don’t forget nothing is stable in the online world with competition increasing every day. Ensure you revise your link-building strategy and don’t be scared of experimenting.

Happy link building!

‘That’ or ‘Which’ is worth knowing!

‘That’ and ‘Which’ are one of the easiest words in grammar, yet I meet so many people who are unclear when to use ‘that’ and ‘which’.

Here are two versions of one sentence, one with ‘that’ and the other with ‘which’.

Which of the two sentences, do you think, is correct?

  • The book, which recently made headlines because of its content, has sold 100 000 copies.
  • The book that recently made headlines because of its content has sold 100 000 copies.

I’ll first give you the answer to the question above, rather than making you wait till the end of the article. The sentence with ‘that’ is correct. Also note the parenthetical commas in the first sentence.

Now the rule of thumb!

That or WhichUse ‘that’ to introduce a restrictive clause and ‘which’ to introduce a non-restrictive (parenthetical) clause. Have restricted and non-restricted created more confusion now? Well, it did when I learnt it the first time. But this is one widely used terminology to differentiate ‘that’ from ‘which’.

Here’s an easy explanation. Use ‘which’ when your purpose is just to add extra information to the sentence. That is, the meaning of the sentence is clear even without adding the extra information. Use ‘that’ when the meaning of the sentence is unclear without the clause. That is, if the clause is removed, the meaning of the sentence will change.

In the example above, the first sentence without the clause reads, ”The book has sold 100 000 copies”. This is unclear. Which book? What was the feature because of which it sold so much? Thus, you definitely need the clause to complete the meaning of the sentence. Hence, the second sentence is correct: The book that recently made headlines because of its content has sold 100 000 copies.

Let’s try with one more example now.

  • Lecture room 5, which is newly built, is in building 51.
  • Lecture room 5 that is newly built is in building 51.

Now in this case, the sentence with ‘which’ is correct. The ”newly built” clause is adding extra information to the sentence and if removed, does not alter the meaning of the sentence—Lecture room 5 is in building 51.

Another difference between ‘that’ and ‘which’ is that ‘which’ is always supported by parenthetical commas.

Now that you know the difference between ‘that’ and ‘which’, you would ask, ”Is this difference worth bothering”?

While most people would use ‘which’ and ‘that’ interchangeably and it does not result in undue confusion, it is worth knowing the difference to make your writing as clear as possible (especially in technical and business writing).

Just a reminder towards the end; do not use ‘that’ or ‘which’ to refer to people. Use ‘who’ instead.

  • Incorrect: The boy that played football is injured.
  • Correct: The boy who played football is injured.