At my writing workshop last week, I raised the name of the dearly departed Sister Grace Agnes, the teacher who made the biggest impression on me (not literally) in grammar school. One of the students at the workshop asked, “Was that the teacher’s REAL name?” Yes.

Even better, my school was called Most Precious Blood. As Dave Barry would say, I’m not making this up.

Anyway, Sister Grace and the other nuns who taught me English grammar probably wouldn’t like the advice I gave the people in the workshop. Here it is: It’s OK to break some of the writing rules you learned in elementary school. For example, we were taught NEVER to begin a sentence with and, but or because. Why did they tell us this? Because kids don’t know how to do it correctly, and they usually end up with badly fractured prose or run-on sentences. But if you’re a grown-up writing a marketing brochure, it’s perfectly acceptable to start a sentence with and. Or because. Because they can put punch in your copy. But remember this: You have to know the rules before you can break them. Amen.

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