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What’s up with starting a sentence with “because”?

Many of us can remember our third-grade teacher emphatically telling us that it’s always wrong to start a sentence with “because.” Undoubtedly, their declaration stemmed from seeing and hearing hundreds of ungrammatical sentences like the following:

  • Because she hit me first!
  • Because my dog ate my homework.
  • Because my dad likes fishing.
  • Because I was hungry.

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Unfortunately, our teachers’ words have stayed with us, and over time, we have turned them into a grammar myth.

In this post, we’ll try to dispel the age-old myth that it’s always wrong to begin a sentence with “because.” The following sentences all start with “because,” and they’re all correct:

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Here are two more examples in which “because” is correctly used to begin their respective sentences:

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As along as you establish a cause and effect relationship, you can use “because” as the first word of a sentence:

  • Because (something is true), (something happened). 

Because the Doctor has a TARDIS, he can go anywhere in time and space.

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On a related note, there was a big commotion last year when “Because (x)” became a topic of discussion—and celebration—among linguists. While words such as “twerk,” “selfie,” and “bitcoin” were hailed as several dictionaries’ and publications’ word of the year, the American Dialect Society made “because" its selection.

You can read all about how “Because (x)” works here.

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Read More

What’s up with “alumnus,” “alumna,” “alumni,” and “alumnae”?

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Let’s suppose that you’re about to graduate from college. Naturally, you’re excited about buying a license plate frame for your car to express your pride in your alma mater.

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But don’t rush into buying any license plate frame; make sure that you don’t embarrass your school by purchasing the wrong one!

Before you grab the coolest looking “Alumni - (Name of School)" license plate frame, ask yourself the all-important question: Am I an “alumnus,” “alumni,” “alumna,” or “alumnae”? (Many people have never even heard of the last two; therefore, very few companies even make such license plate frames. We happened to find one such plate in the wild.)

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You might have read all this and asked, "Who the [grawlix] cares?”

YOU should, my friend. It all begins with YOU

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Words (even Latin ones) have meanings.

P.S. The abbreviation “alum" works in place of "alumnus" and "alumna," and "alums" works in place of "alumnae" and "alumni."

What’s up with “than” and “then”?

We use than to make unequal comparisons (e.g., more than, less than, taller than, faster than, richer than).

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Need more examples?

  • I have more homework assignments to finish than you do.
  • Get back home no later than midnight, OK?
  • Jake claims that he loves food more than he loves people.

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We use then to mean “at that past time,” “next,” or “therefore.”

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So remember: if you flip the A in “thAn” to the side, it looks like a > (greater than) symbol. We use than in unequal comparisons (greater than, less than, etc.). Otherwise, you’re looking for then.

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