1

Can I use more than one "and" in a list? Which sentence is correct, and why is it correct? Thank you for reading.

  1. "I am a good person, an exemplary citizen, and I want to make the system work better."

or

  1. "I am a good person and an exemplary citizen, and I want to make the system work better."

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Jan 7 '17 at 3:43

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  • 4
    Those things are not all part of the same list. You have two things in the list of what you are: “a good person and an exemplary citizen” then you have a compound sentence with a conjunction. Since there’s only two things in your list you should use and. – Jim Jan 7 '17 at 1:47
  • Thank you for helping me out. Which number is the correct sentence? Are you saying the second one is correct? – LedZepp Jan 7 '17 at 1:51
  • 1
    Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! – Hot Licks Jan 7 '17 at 3:21
  • @LedZepp, the second sentence is correct, as explained by Jim. – JavaLatte Jan 7 '17 at 5:05
1

In informal text or speech, you can use "and" many times in a list. This often sounds rushed or childish, though. Hot Licks' example of "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" is from a movie scene with a scared child.

In formal writing, it is normal to have one "and" for each list or sub-list. The original post has a main list, and a sub-list. Both versions of the original list are acceptable in formal writing. The second version is less ambiguous.

  1. "I am a good person, an exemplary citizen, and I want to make the system work better."

The first version can be parsed as either

  • a list containing three items (good person, exemplary citizen, I want…), or
  • a list containing two items (I am a good person, I want…), plus an appositive phrase (which is similar to a parenthetical note).
  1. "I am a good person and an exemplary citizen, and I want to make the system work better."

The second verse can be parsed as

  • a sub-list containing two items (good person, exemplary citizen), and
  • a main list containing two items (I am <the sub-list>, I want…).

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