Ending a sentence with 'but'
"Can you start a sentence with 'and'? How about 'but'?"
The 'opening with a conjunction' issue is the copywriter equivalent of an old chestnut. Oft-trodden ground that's all sodden and squishy.
(The short answer to both of those questions is 'YES', by the way.)
As you might be aware, in Japanese many sentences are 'the other way round'. So 'this is a pen' becomes 'a pen, this is'. 'An apple I ate'.
So: if you're using Japanese, can you end a sentence with a conjunction instead?
Yep. It'll actually make you sound more natural, in some cases.
Let's say you're at a train station and you want to get to the airport. You know 'airport' is 'kuukou' (空港) and 'want to go' is 'ikitai' (行きたい). Whack in a に to indicate direction and you're sorted, right?
It'll do in a pinch, so you make your flight.
BUT (*ahem*) there's a better way. Tack 'but...' on the end. There are a few ways to say 'but' or 'however' - at the end of a sentence, 'kedo' typically works best.
Now you sound a bit more like you're not just reading from a phrasebook.
Hold the phone, Kady. Ending a sentence with 'but'. Doesn't that make you sound unsure whether you want to go to the airport or not?
What you're doing here is softening your speech. It's important to trail off as you say it, almost like you forgot what you wanted to say next.
We Brits have a reputation for buttering our sentences with 'terribly sorry, hope you don't mind'. Meaningless guff. Dropping 'but', 'sorry about this' and copious amounts of 'I don't mean to be rude' into Japanese sentences does a similar job.
Not to mention creating a sense of wanting support without burdening the other person. Trailing off with a 'kedo' leaves the logical second part of your sentence - 'I need help with that' - implied. Because to explicitly state that would be 'meiwaku' (迷惑): a bother, troublesome.
It's your problem. It doesn't put a specific onus on the person you asked to provide the solution. They can direct you to someone else and save face doing it.
I find myself using the 'kedo' strategy in shops when I can't find something. It gives the shop assistant a chance to tell me it's out of stock, rather than get up and go look for it. They don't have to take time out to scour the shelves with me, and I can move on to another shop. It works both ways.
Ending a Japanese sentence with 'and' is an entirely different thing. One I'm sure I'll cover in a future post.