Can You Start a Sentence With “Well”?

You can start a sentence with “well,” but it is inappropriate for formal and academic writing. Instead, it is more common in informal messaging as a filler word that you use to add a pause. E.g., “We thought he had quit. Well, it turns out they fired him.”

You can use the word “well” to begin a sentence if you want to include a pause that emphasizes what you are about to say. Using “well” to start sentences is far more common in speech than in writing.

Also, using the word “well” in any formal writing is not typical and not advisable. In informal writing, it is also uncommon, but there may be some situations in which you may use it.

People often add this pause when angry, frustrated, or doubtful. As shown in these examples:

  • Well, if you were in my shoes, what would you do?
  • He thinks he is the best. Well, his arrogance will not last long.

However, people also use “well” to begin a sentence to set up an exciting piece of information or gossip.

  • The Baxters always seemed the perfect family. Well, that was until the father was arrested for fraud.

Furthermore, some people believe that if you use “well” at the start of a sentence, you may be lying. To be clear, this is not the case. It is no more likely that you are lying if you start a sentence with “well” compared to any other word.

We have covered the basics of how to use “well” at the beginning of a sentence. Keep reading to learn more about “well” in formal and informal writing.

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

You should not start sentences with the filler word “well” in formal writing.

Using “well” to begin sentences is mainly reserved for speech or informal writing.

In this role, the filler word “well” does not have a specific meaning because it is just a way of creating a pause.

However, there are several synonyms you could use instead of “well” in an essay or piece of formal writing. These include:

  • Actually
  • Consequently
  • Therefore
  • Thus

The words above function the same way as the word “well” in creating a transition between information.

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

You can use the word “well” to start sentences in informal writing. However, it is more common in conversational messaging and speech than in casual business correspondence.

Below, you can see some examples of how “well” appears in informal messaging.

As a way of introducing gossip or some interesting information:

  • You never guess what? Well, Janet from across the street put her house up for sale.

As a way of expressing anger or frustration:

  • If you think you are in trouble now. Well, wait until you get home. We are grounding you for a week.

As a way of showing doubt or hesitation:

  • I will come over later. Well, that’s if I am still invited.