Can You Start a Sentence with “Because”? Well, It Depends
Here’s a question that I've been asking myself for quite a long time. Why was it that in school I was told to never start a sentence with because, while I kept on seeing professional writers do it all the time? Sentences starting with because turn up in novels, blogs, articles—and everywhere in between.
Have we all been tricked? Is there a secret that only elite writers know? Let’s see if we can work this one out.
The rule is that you can’t start a sentence with “because” as it should only be used to join the main clause with a dependent clause. Otherwise, you end up with a fragmented sentence.
Exception: When you flip the order of your clauses and put a comma between them, your sentence will start with “because” and still be correct.
In conversational English, fragmented sentences tend to be more accepted and can make a point stand out.
The historical rule: You cannot start a sentence with “because”
Let’s first try and understand where our school teachers were coming from. Because is a subordinate conjunction word, which means it is used to join a main clause to a subordinate (or dependent) clause.
For example, let’s break down the following: “Jason went for a run because he needed to get fit for football season”. This sentence is made up of two distinct parts (or clauses):
“Jason went for a run...”: You can immediately tell it’s the main clause because it can work as a complete sentence by itself, even if you remove it from the original text.
“... because he needed to get fit for football season” is the subordinate clause: If you try and isolate it, you immediately see that it looks incomplete and doesn’t make much sense.
The use of because joins the two clauses and makes it a new, complete sentence.
Now let’s take a look at the two clauses if we were to separate them with a period: “Jason went for a run. Because he needed to get fit for football season.”
This version is wrong because the second sentence is what we call a fragmented or incomplete sentence. It leaves us feeling like there’s more we need to know about getting fit for football season.
Exception 1: Flipping the order of the sentence
The case is made: You can’t start a sentence with because. Actually, things are a bit more nuanced than that. This is where you discover the formula that your teachers were keeping secret. It all has to do with flipping the order of the sentence and adding a simple comma.
If you start your sentence with the dependent clause (“Because…”) and introduce your main clause with a comma, you would have just created a sentence without fragments. The comma serves as a necessary link between the two clauses, ensuring that they work together as one meaningful piece of information.
It’s simpler if we take a look at our example sentence:
“Because Jason needed to get fit for football season, he went for a run.”
As you can see, we flipped the order of the sentence and added a magic comma. It becomes a complete sentence with no fragments, so even your English teacher would have to say it’s correct.
Exception 2: In conversational English
The English language has changed over the centuries. In today’s world, it is becoming more and more acceptable to bend, and sometimes, break grammar rules. For instance, if you want your writing to come across as conversational, then it may be acceptable to start a fragmented sentence with because.
“Why was he allowed to eat the ice cream? Because I said so.”
“She succeeded in her new role because of her grit. Because of her grit alone.”
You’ll find examples of this everywhere, from Bon Jovi’s song title “Because We Can” to countless novels where dialogue takes place. These types of sentences can have a powerful impact and make a point stand out.
In a nutshell
So, can you use because at the start of a sentence?
Yes, but only in the two following cases:
When you flip the order of your sentence and join the two clauses with a comma.
In conversational English—where incomplete sentences are more acceptable—if the sentence starting with because immediately follows the main clause.
Josh Weinberger, Marketing Writer at Wix
An Aussie boy living in Israel who loves words, football (soccer for you Americans), music and time with the fam.