A Five-Anded Sentence

My grandfather used to tell a story which included the word ‘and’ five times consecutively in one sentence. Have a think about that – it’s not easy – I’ll tell you the story in a moment.

This week I mentioned to a friend, Stuart, that I was 60k words into the first draft of my novel, with about 40k to go, and he suggested I use short words to help speed up the process. His top tip was to use the words “and then”, as often as I could. Of course his suggestion was meant in jest but there’s some truth in what he says, at least for business writing; why use a long word when a short one will get the point across more quickly? But in other forms of writing it can be nice to be more sesquipedalian sometimes, encouraging readers to perhaps even reach for a dictionary occasionally.

My grandfather was, literally, a rocket scientist, and later a nuclear scientist, so I suppose it’s not surprising that his many stories were often rather clever. Anyway, here is his ‘five-ander’ story: The owner of the PIG AND WHISTLE pub needed a new sign painting. But when the sign-writer had finished, the pub owner wasn’t completely satisfied with the job, particularly the spacing of the letters. He said “There’s too big a gap between the words PIG and AND and AND and WHISTLE.”

Given my day job these days I’m tempted to edit that sentence to make it clearer, which perhaps makes me a little less useful than Grandpa was. But trust me, you’d much rather have me messing with sentences than with nuclear fusion at a power plant.  Or is it fission? See.

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