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Question 1: Are colons allowed in a list?

  • Business writing skills: data entry, email, presentation and press release writing.

Question 2: Should there be only one and in a sentence?

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I like the second question as I often wounder that myself. –  ByteBlast Mar 27 '13 at 0:51
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2 Answers

Question the First

Regarding the presence of colons in a list, it is customary, particularly when prefaced with the following, to introduce an enumerated list of items with a colon, such as we do in the following list:

  • Gigantic utterances: fie, fie, foe, and fum.

Question the Second

Regarding the number of instances of the word and which are permissible within a sentence, I prefer to produce citations from literature instead of fabricating unnatural sentences of my own devising, as these may be artificial and1 unrealistic, even if unbeknownst to me. I shall therefore cite from Steven Brust’s most excellent homage to Alexander Dumas and1 his fabulous musketeers.

A sentence with one and:

You are quite correct that having just a single and — and1 no more — is certainly allowed. Witness this fine example:

We are following the lives of certain personages, and1 some of them, indeed, were involved in these great events, but it is only in the course of following these characters that we are witnessing the Disaster; at the point when we began this tale, in fact, we, knowing where we would end, made the decision to summarily omit any references to children, babies, or even pets (with the exception of certain unimportant fishes) who may have come to our attention—it is possible that the reader may have noticed the omission.

As you see, it is quite fine to have a sentence containing a single and, as you and1 the esteemed Mr Brust have demonstrated. But stay! There seems to be another example under my fingertips, one that is in fact . . .

A sentence with two ands:

While Khaavren sleeps the sleep of the young and1 brave, we must, like the hawk, whose eyes can see through the overcast to spot a norska who can not see him, even should the norska think to look up, send our gaze winging through the city, up Kieron’s Hill, past the Jungle of Ferns where Tuorli sat for week after week composing a cycle of love-poems to her errant lover the Marquis of Gweththor, Dzur Heir to the fifteenth throne, lost his future and2 his life in the six-hour-long duel with his cousin the Duke of Kl’burra, until we arrive at an unprepossessing hostelry built of arched wood on the Avenue of Urtiya the Sage.

And1 while there you have an example of two, perhaps this is a mere aberration and2 not something to be done lightly nor often. Surely one could not envision . . .

A sentence with three ands:

In the long, complex, and1 mysterious history of Sethra Lavode, the historian doubts that she ever performed an act more courageous, more difficult, and2 more vital than, with full knowledge of what was about to happen, standing in the Portrait room and3 sending the Orb to the one place in all the world where she knew, however all-encompassing the impending disaster proved, even should it destroy every speck of life on the word (which, in fact, she was not certain was not the case) the Orb, at least, would be safe; in other words, to the Paths of the Dead.

I have looked and1 looked, and2 then looked some more, but I can find no fault with its grammar and3 its syntax. Passing strange it is; surely there can be no room for . . .

A sentence with four ands:

With complete confidence in the Teckla, Khaavren gave no more thought to the tasks he had assigned this worthy; instead he simply returned home, where his sword and1 cloak were taken by Cyl, an elderly servant who had been with the Manor since before the Interregnum, and2 who, by this time, understood the complex relationships between imperial service, county service, and3 family life better than did any of the others who lived there, particularly including the Countess and4 Lord Khaavren.

As you can see, things have gotten out of hand here — but have they gotten out of ands as well? Apparently not, for here is . . .

A sentence with five ands:

That, having accomplished this feat of unheard-of skill and1 daring she then, for no reason other than friendship, remained where she was long enough to collect Aliera and2 attempt to also bring her along to a place of safety is to know that out of all the heroes with which history is here and3 there dotted, there is at least one, and4 here we mean Sethra herself, who has proven before the very eyes of history that her reputation is not undeserved—that is, she consistently proves, ever and5 anon, that she still has all of those facets of character which won for her the renown she enjoys.

My goodness, you’d think there were no end to and — and1 no and to end (so to speak) — the way he just keeps going and2 going and3 going and4 going and5 . . .

A sentence with six ands:

Therefore, in the interest of the satisfaction of our reader as well, we must insist, of honesty, and1 although we have not forgotten enemies, plagues, invasions, wars, and2 famine, we neverthless direct our reader’s gaze to calm Aerich, happy Tazendra, and3 smiling Pel, who, in turn, are looking upon Khaavren and4 Daro, who stare deeply into each other’s eyes with the happy, tender, and5 even joyful expression of fulfilled love, and6 it is here that we choose to take our leave of the reader.

Well, there you have it then! I believe we can safely conclude that . . .

There is no limit to the number of instances of and that you can have in a single sentence.

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wow. beautifully answered! thanks for some inspiration! –  camelbrush Mar 28 '13 at 17:43
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Ans to your first question: Yes. semi-colons can be used in a list. Have a look here for the rules. For the second question, there is no rule that says there should be only one and in a sentence. For example:

To be good at work and home, you need to manage your time and energy well.

Have some more reading about the topic here.

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