Don’t use fragments. Never begin a sentence with a conjunction like “and” or “but” and don’t end with a preposition. I’m sure you remember the grammar rules you learned in school. Most of them still apply today.
But copywriters like me love to break them. We don’t do it to test our clients or because we don’t respect rules. We do it to write copy that grabs the reader’s attention, makes a connection and sounds better overall. Now you’re probably thinking, “How can it be better if it’s wrong?” Maybe this will help…
Using prepositions as finales
What kind of book are you looking for?
For what kind of book are you looking?
The second one is considered grammatically correct, but do you really speak that way? If I were writing in a very formal tone or for certain audiences, I would use the second version. But for marketing or web copy that is conversational and more natural, I’d end with a preposition.
Don’t get me wrong. In certain cases, ending with a preposition will never be appropriate (“Where’s he at?” for example). Otherwise, experts still debate whether it’s a strict rule or a holdover from Latin grammar that doesn’t apply to English.
Conjunctions and flow
This is used perhaps less often, but beginning a sentence with a conjunction like “and” or “but” can help with word flow. It also allows you to connect thoughts while maintaining brevity.
Why fragments work
I love fragments. Really. They can add punch, especially to short ad copy. Copywriters often use them as verbal exclamation points, sudden stops to alter rhythm, and as attention getters. In fact, it’s a very useful tool in an ad copywriter’s toolbox.
So the next time you see what looks like a grammatical error, take a second look. That copywriter might be breaking the rules on purpose. Because if there’s a choice between stilted language and punchy, readable copy, we’ll go for the second every time.