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Can more than one coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, etc.) be used in a sentence?

For example: "It was never my intention to become wealthy, but opportunities seemed to just happen, and I was not about to refuse them."

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This is a strange question. Not only is this a perfectly natural construction, but you will in fact be hard pressed to name one writer who has never used it. –  RegDwigнt Apr 24 '13 at 10:37
Great. I somehow felt this wasn't so, and I have been avoiding doing this for quite some time. –  shootingstars Apr 24 '13 at 12:08

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It is perfectly fine to use multiple conjunctions in a sentence, and although it may produce something which seems a bit verbose, there are appropriate uses for it, and in literature in particular, it's commonly used to create a sense of continuity throughout a scene by forcing the reader to take in the entire paragraph without stopping, and Ernest Hemingway was famous for doing precisely that!

I wondered if there was anything else I might pray for, and I thought I would like to have some money, so I prayed that I would make a lot of money, and then I started to think how I would make it, and thinking of making money reminded me of the count, and I started wondering about where he was, and regretting I hadn’t seen him since that night in Montmartre, and about something funny Brett told me about him, and as all the time I was kneeling with my forehead on the wood in front of me, and was thinking of myself as praying, I was a little ashamed, and regretted that I was such a rotten Catholic, but realized there was nothing I could do about it, at least for a while, and maybe never, but that anyway it was a grand religion, and I only wished I felt religious and maybe I would the next time; and then I was out in the hot sun on the steps of the cathedral, and the forefingers and the thumb of my right hand were still damp, and I felt them dry in the sun.

  • Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Admittedly, my crude attempt was not nearly as good as Hemingway's.

This is a literary technique. I definitely wouldn't advise it for technical writing or any formal communication. It makes the reader work a lot harder to read your sentences than would otherwise be necessary.

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Excellent. I'd read this book some time ago, but I somehow hadn't noticed this. Thanks! –  shootingstars Apr 24 '13 at 12:05

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