Some years ago I began to notice that my college freshmen had all gotten a very strange idea. They had been taught that one must never begin a sentence with the word “because.” I have no idea where high school teachers came up with this one. It is like alligators in the Manhattan sewers, or aliens landing in Roswell. Some kook huddled in a condemned building says it, and all at once everybody “knows” it, though it is not in the slightest bit true.

Word of the Day There’s nothing special about the word “because.” It’s a subordinating conjunction, like a hundred others. Any of them may begin a sentence—so long as  it’s a sentence they are beginning. A sentence, whether it begins with “because” or “if” or “since” or “although” or “whenever” or “while” or “whatever” or whatever,  requires a main clause. This is not a sentence:

Because I could not stop for death.

But it’s because it lacks a main clause. Let Emily Dickinson supply one:

Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me.

Why would you want to begin with the “because”? Well, you might want to emphasize the main clause, leaving it to the end, if that contains the idea you are going to develop. Or you might want to emphasize the material in the subordinate clause, placing it after the main clause:

We’re off to see the Wizard,
The wonderful Wizard of Oz!
We hear he is a whiz of a wiz
If ever a wiz there was!
If ever if ever a wiz there was
The Wizard of Oz is one because
Because because because because because —
Because of the wonderful things he does!
We’re off to see the Wizard,
The wonderful Wizard of Oz!

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