Can You Start a Sentence With “Or”?

You can start a sentence with the word “or” but it is most common in informal writing. The term “or” is a conjunction you use to indicate choice or possibility. E.g., “The President is not aware of how angry voters are. Or he doesn’t care.”

Some people regard it as “incorrect” or bad practice to start sentences in an essay with conjunctions such as “or/and.”

However, beginning a sentence with “or ” is not wrong, and the idea that it is incorrect is losing relevance in modern English.

Consider the following examples:

  • Would you like pizza? Or pasta?

The above example is incorrect in formal English because it is a sentence fragment. However, in informal English, people use this kind of structure regularly.

Furthermore, we can make it correct by adding the verb and subject.

  • Would you like pizza? Or would you prefer pasta?

Also, the word “or” is sometimes followed by a dependent clause:

  • We need to improve all aspects of the company. Or, as much as it saddens me, we will have to close.

We have covered the basics of starting a sentence with the term “or.” Now, continue reading to discover more about using “or” to begin formal and informal sentences.

You can also find a list of formal alternatives to use instead of “or” at the beginning of a sentence.

Can You Start a Sentence With “Or” in Formal Writing?

It is acceptable to start sentences with “or” in academic or formal writing.

However, some people feel that it is wrong to do this. Therefore, if you are writing an essay for one of those people, you should perhaps use a different word.

Here are some examples of sentences with “or.”

  • We must reassure clients that their data is safe. Or they may consider changing providers.
  • We sold our client data. Or, as some may say, we broke our promise not to sell their data.

You can also add the word “rather” after “or,” which is another way of saying “in other words” or “i.e.”

  • She works in medicine. Or rather, she is a nurse.

Another common way to use “or” at the start of a sentence is in questions. In formal writing, you must include the verb and subject in the second part of the question.

  • Incorrect: Do you want to live in a world with extreme weather events? Or natural disasters?
  • Correct: Do you want to live in a world with extreme weather events? Or do you want to experience natural disasters?

The word “or” is considered neither formal nor informal. However, some other words and phrases you can use instead of “or” in formal writing include:

  • Alternatively
  • As an alternative
  • Conversely
  • On the other hand

Can You Start a Sentence With “Or” in Informal Writing?

It is correct to start sentences with “or” in informal writing.

Some frown upon beginning sentences with conjunctions like “or,” but those ideas apply more to formal writing.

Here are some examples of how “or” can be used to start a sentence with dependent and independent clauses after it.

  • We could go to Florida. Or we could go out west to California.
  • He is a charming man. Or, as some people think, a little bit deceptive.