Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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."

share|improve this question
4  
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
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 1 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.

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

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.