In my last post (internal link) I described how I was working my way through an on-line grammar course. It’s engaging enough that I am considering going further, by taking a certificate course in editing. U.C. Berkeley offers a course called the Professional Sequence in Editing (external link). Designed for writing professionals, it may be just what I need to help me with the editing and proofreading I do now.
Besides being a freelance writer, I am an on-demand worker for In Focus Web Marketing (internal link) of Vancouver. I edit other writers’ copy and I write material of my own. I would like to better understand my decisions. Why starting a sentence with the word “and” is acceptable in certain cases and why it is not in others. Using less rather than fewer, onto, rather than on to, unlawful, rather than illegal, and so on. Enrollment starts on July 6th, classes begin in September.
After another month I will have worked my way through the grammar lessons and be in a better position to decide what to do next. I feel I’ve learned my writing and editing style by ear, by what sounds right, like a musician who can play passably but who can’t read sheet music. I know what sounds right, but in many cases I am wrong. It’s time, perhaps, to learn the sheet music of my craft, to go further.
June 7, 2015 Update. I’m learning! I found this wonderfully informative quote in The Chicago Manual of Style, on why it is proper to start a sentence with a conjunction like “and” or “but.” It reads:
There is a widespread belief—one with no historical or grammatical foundation—that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but, or so. In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. It has been so for centuries, and even the most conservative grammarians have followed this practice. Charles Allen Lloyd’s 1938 words fairly sum up the situation as it stands even today:
“Next to the groundless notion that it is incorrect to end an English sentence with a preposition, perhaps the most wide-spread of the many false beliefs about the use of our language is the equally groundless notion that it is incorrect to begin one with ‘but’ or ‘and.’ As in the case of the superstition about the prepositional ending, no textbook supports it, but apparently about half of our teachers of English go out of their way to handicap their pupils by inculcating it. One cannot help wondering whether those who teach such a monstrous doctrine ever read any English themselves.” (Charles Allen Lloyd, We Who Speak English: And Our Ignorance of Our Mother Tongue (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1938), 19.)