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A Wordplay Puzzle

For this puzzle, fill in the blank below with a word. That part is easy, but the second part of the challenge is to then use that word three times consecutively in a new sentence, with proper punctuation.

The problem was that we wanted to go to the beach, ___________ it took all day to get ready.

A Solution

Here is one possibility (or a few):

I would have used "except," except "except" wasn't quite right, so I tried "but," but "but" wasn't right either, so I used "so," so "so" would be in this sentence three consecutive times as well, and then I finally decided on "and," and "and," as it turned out, was just the word I was looking for.

This little wordplay exercise raises the question of just how many times you can say a word consecutively in a sentence without violating the rules of English grammar. Three times seems to be easy enough if you use conjunctions.

There is one case I know of where the word "that" is used five times consecutively. You can see that example on the page That Riddle About That "That".

Of course there are some unspoken assumptions about the rules when posing a challenge like this. It would be correct English to quote a man who said a word repeatedly, as in "He said over and over, "No, no, no, no, no, no."" You could have an unlimited number of consecutive uses with this cheap trick, but it seems to violate the spirit of this kind of wordplay puzzle.

Apart from cheap tricks and the easier-to-use conjunctions (as in the first solution above), what is the highest number of consecutive times you can use a word in a sentence? Probably two or three times. One way to do this is to use verbs that can also be used as nouns, as in, "I hope hope is enough." Using quotes is the obvious other tool, as in "He laughed and yelled, "Yelled? I barely whispered."

If you can find an example of more than five words used consecutively in a proper sentence, or an example of three consecutive uses of words that are not conjunctions, let me know. Enjoy your wordplay!

Wordplay Update, 2010

I received the following example of 10 consecutive uses of a word in a sentence from a subscriber to the Brainpower Newsletter:

John, while Jack had had "had", had had "had had"; "had had" had had a better effect on the teacher.

(Two boys answering a teacher's question with "had" and "had had", respectively.)


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