You can start sentences with “then” in formal and informal writing. The word “then” at the beginning of a sentence indicates what happened “after” the previous sentence. E.g., “We went out for dinner. Then we went to the theatre.”
No rule concerning English grammar states that using “then” at the start of a sentence is wrong.
It is a word that you can use to indicate transitions from one process to another. Therefore, the term “then” must always have something before it.
- He did a master’s in physics. Then he went on to do a Ph.D. in a math-related topic.
- We are going to New Zealand for two weeks. Then we are flying to Australia for a week.
Because of the meaning of “then,” it is suitable for starting sentences, but it is usually wrong to start a paragraph with “then.”
Perhaps you still have doubts about using “then” to begin formal sentences.
If so, keep reading the rest of the article, where we explain more about “then” in formal and informal contexts.
We have some great example sentences to show you that will make the concepts much easier to understand.
Can You Start a Sentence With “Then” in Formal Writing?
Beginning sentences with “then” in formal writing is perfectly acceptable.
For example, it is common to use “then” to start a sentence when describing a sequence of processes, actions, states, etc.
The word “then” always indicates what happened after the preceding sentence.
To better understand the concepts, we’ve gathered some great example sentences for you. Have a look at them here:
- The suspect entered the premises illegally. Then he gained access to the safe from which he stole $20,000.
- We made observations of traffic frequency on major inbound and outbound roads. Then we compared the data to that of 1990.
- The solar panel collected energy throughout the day. Then, it stored that energy for use during the nighttime.
- The researchers conducted the initial experiment under controlled conditions. Then, they repeated it in a real-world setting to verify the results.
- The team prepared a comprehensive presentation. Then, they presented it to the board of directors for approval.
- The committee first discussed the potential risks of the project. Then, they moved on to discussing its benefits and long-term impact.
- The enzyme breaks down the substrate in the first phase. Then, it releases the products into the surrounding environment.
Notice how the use of “then” at the beginning of these sentences sounds quite natural. Therefore, there’s no harm done in using it to start sentences in formal writing.
If you want to mix up your formal language, you can use one of these synonyms instead of “then” at the start of a sentence:
It can be quite repetitive if you use “then” over and over again in your formal writing. Therefore, make sure to keep your word choice varied to keep the reader’s attention.
Now, what about informal writing, though?
Can You Start a Sentence With “Then” in Informal Writing?
You can start a sentence with “then” in informal writing.
For example, it is common to begin sentences with “then” when telling stories, giving instructions, or describing sequences of events.
You can only use “then” to start a sentence when there is other information before it.
Here are some examples of how to use “then” in informal writing:
- First, we went to Las Vegas. Then we drove to LA before flying home on Sunday.
- You need to send me all the page designs by Tuesday. Then I want to meet with you to discuss them.
- He comes home from work at 7 pm. Then falls asleep as soon as he has eaten his dinner.
- I made some fresh lemonade. Then I sat on the porch to enjoy the evening breeze.
- We watched a movie at the cinema. Then we went to our favorite diner for some late-night snacks.
- First, add two cups of flour to the bowl. Then pour in a cup of milk and start mixing.
- She read her book for an hour. Then decided to take a short nap before heading out.
- They played soccer in the park with friends. Then grabbed some ice creams on their way back home.
So, “then” can both be used to start a sentence in formal and informal writing. As long as you keep the surrounding words appropriate for the context, there’s nothing wrong with using “then” at the beginning of a sentence.
However, if you ever find yourself in doubt when using “then” to start your sentences, feel free to come back at any time. We won’t go anywhere!