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Can You Start a Sentence with a Preposition?

When I posted the article Can You End a Sentence with a Preposition, I was surprised by how many people asked if you can start a sentence with a preposition. Here's the answer.

By
Mignon Fogarty
start a sentence with a preposition example

Many people were taught that they shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition. Today, however, most language experts don't abide by this "rule"—it's often called a myth. (Read more at Ending a Sentence with a Preposition.)

However, after I posted the article about ending sentences with prepositions, I was surprised by how many people asked if it is OK to start a sentence with a preposition. I've never heard a rule forbidding that practice.

Prepositional Phrases at the Beginning of a Sentence

Prepositional phrases at the beginning of sentences are common and grammatically correct. Consider these examples:

  • On the other hand, Bobby likes strawberries.
  • After soccer, we go out for pizza.
  • By noon, all the runners should be finished.
  • Over spring break, Shondra broke up with Lance.

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Commas After Prepositional Phrases at the Beginning of a Sentence

When you start a sentence with a prepositional phrase, it's usually a good idea to put a comma after it (as in the examples above). In general, the longer the prepositional phrase, the more you need the comma. For example, the Purdue Online Writing Lab says a comma is required after introductory prepositional phrases that are longer than four words.

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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