Can sentences start with “because”? My son’s teacher says no.

“Because” is a word that is often misused in writing.  “Because” is a connecting word, connecting an independent clause with a dependent clause in a sentence.  If you use it, you must connect two ideas.  For example,

child writing in sleeping bag

I went to bed because I was tired.

“I went to bed” is the independent clause.  “Because I was tired” is the dependent clause.  “Because” is the connecting word.

Teachers tell students that they cannot start a sentence with “because.”  Actually, they can, if they connect the “because” clause to an independent clause.  For example,

Because I was tired, I went to bed.   (This is a perfectly good sentence.)

The problem is that many kids forget to add the independent clause.  Let’s look at three problems and how to solve them.

1.  Suppose a reading question asks you to tell why the dinosaurs died. You write, “Because a meteor hit the earth.”  This is a good fact but bad grammar.  “Because a meteor hit the earth” is not a sentence.  It is part of a sentence.  You need to add an independent clause to make it a complete sentence.  If you write, “Because a meteor hit the earth, the dinosaurs died,” now you have a sentence.

2.  If you find yourself starting what you think are sentences with the word “because,” there is an easy way to fix those mistakes. Just cross out the word “Because” and put a capital letter on the next word.

Why did Harry Potter go to Hogwarts School?

Because he wanted to be a wizard.  (Cross out Because and capitalize He.)

3.  Cause and Because are not the same thing. In writing, you cannot use “cause” if you mean “because.”  Cause is a verb or a noun.  Because is a subordinate conjunction (a connecting word.)

I went home cause I felt sick.  Wrong.  I went home because I felt sick.  Correct.

If you are writing dialog, write the way people speak even if their grammar is wrong.  Write ’cause when the speaker says “cause” meaning because.  The apostrophe indicates some letters are missing.

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