Can You Start a Sentence With “Of”?

The use of "of" at the start of a sentence often sparks debate among English language enthusiasts. While some argue that it's grammatically incorrect, others maintain that it can be used efficiently in certain contexts. This article aims to delve into this controversy and shed light on the correct usage of "of" at the beginning of a sentence.

The Role of "Of" in a Sentence

"Of" is a preposition commonly used in English sentences. It is primarily used to indicate relationships between parts of a sentence, including possession, origin, cause, and comparison. For example, "The keys of the car are on the table" or "The city of Rome is beautiful."

Instances Where Starting With "Of" Works Well

There are indeed occasions where starting a sentence with "of" is not only grammatically correct but also adds a touch of elegance to the prose. This usually happens in poetic or literary contexts, where the conventional rules of grammar can be more flexible to achieve a certain style or rhythm.

Sentence Explanation
"Of all the places I've visited, Paris remains my favorite." Here, "Of" is used to begin a sentence in an idiomatic way to indicate a selection from a group.
"Of course, he was the first to arrive." "Of" is used here to start a sentence as part of the phrase "Of course," expressing certainty.
"Of this, I am certain." In this sentence, "Of" is used to lead a phrase that would normally come later in the sentence, adding emphasis to the certainty.
"Of human bondage, we have much to learn." Here, "Of" is used to start a general statement about a topic.
"Of note is the exceptional performance of the team." "Of" begins this sentence to emphasize the point that follows.

Instances Where Caution is Needed

While there are instances where starting a sentence with "of" works, it's also important to note instances where using "of" at the start can make the sentence confusing or awkward. This typically happens when "of" is used unnecessarily or without a clear referent.

Sentence Explanation
"Of it, I am not sure." This sentence is awkward and unclear. A better alternative would be, "I am not sure of it."
"Of running late, he was always guilty." This sentence is confusing and sounds unnatural. "He was always guilty of running late" would be clearer.
"Of the cake, she ate a slice." This sentence is unnecessarily complicated. "She ate a slice of the cake" would be simpler and more straightforward.

Tips for Using "Of" at the Beginning of a Sentence

When using "of" at the start of a sentence, it's important to ensure that the sentence remains clear and straightforward. Avoid using "of" unnecessarily, and make sure there's a clear referent for the preposition. Remember, while starting a sentence with "of" is not grammatically incorrect, it can make your writing sound overly formal or old-fashioned if used too frequently.

Common Misconceptions and Myths

  • Myth: It is grammatically incorrect to start a sentence with "of."

  • Fact: Starting a sentence with "of" is not grammatically incorrect. However, it should be done with caution to avoid awkward or confusing sentences.

  • Myth: "Of" should never be used to start a sentence in formal writing.

  • Fact: "Of" can be used to start a sentence in both formal and informal writing. However, it's often more common in literary or poetic contexts.


The debate about whether a sentence can start with "of" can be put to rest. It is indeed possible and grammatically correct to start a sentence with "of," but it should be done with caution to ensure clarity and coherence. In conclusion, while "of" is a versatile preposition that can be used at the beginning of a sentence, it is best used sparingly to avoid making your prose sound old-fashioned or overly formal.

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