varying degrees of sullenness <and> exultation <and> prettiness <and> slouching disarray


Hi. In a story, I saw a sentence like this : ' The girls are leaving the school in varying degrees of sullenness and exultation and prettiness and slouching disarray.' I didn't understand why there are three 'and's. Can we use comma there instead of two ands?
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    I saw a sentence like this
    What was the name of the book and what was the context? :thumbsup:

    (In the meantime, you might like this:
    Martin Gardner offered the example: "Wouldn't the sentence 'I want to put a hyphen between the words Fish and And and And and Chips in my Fish-And-Chips sign' have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before Fish, and between Fish and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and Chips, as well as after Chips?"
    List of linguistic example sentences - Wikipedia)

    Mr. Clean

    English - International
    Here's what my vivid imagination tells me, without knowing the original text:

    It seems like more of a creative text. Or at least a text that's there to communicate more than facts only.

    For me the repetition of and is a literary device; a way for the writer to say "I observed these four types of people/behaviors among those leaving the school" and I want to make that clear. And maybe also to convey a certain tone in the observer. But for tone we'd need some more text, I'd say, to tell. From the word choice, maybe a humorous tone? Commas would make it sound more like a list with less emphasis.

    But to answer your technical question: Yes, in my opinion, commas could have been used instead, if the goal was information only.


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Can we use comma there instead of two ands?
    Yes, and using commas is more common. But it is also correct using the "and"s. The writer chose to use "and"s instead of commas, because that sentence seemed better to the writer. I don't know why the writer chose that.
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