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Is it wrong to use the same word twice in the same sentence? Options
robjen
Posted: Sunday, June 6, 2021 5:18:58 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/17/2015
Posts: 818
Neurons: 4,538
I have made up the sentences below.

(1) Some people are upset with some dishonest people who cheat the elderly.

(2) I don't have enough gift wrap to wrap the watch for Jack's birthday.

(3) I'm not thirsty. I don't think I'll drink my drink right now.

Does using the same word twice in one sentence sound OK to native speakers' ears? Please answer my question. Thank you very much.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, June 6, 2021 6:06:47 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 35,277
Neurons: 241,541
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
I don't think that there's a RULE which says you can't. Sometimes it can't be avoided, especially with conjunctions and prepositions.

However, it can sound a bit 'awkward' and is usually avoided - sometimes it's just a matter of using a pronoun or synonym; sometimes the word can be omitted totally.


(1a) Some people are upset with people who cheat the elderly.

Anyone who cheats is dishonest. People would not be upset with SOME of these people and not with others. The two words are not needed. However there could be a situation in which you need both "some"s.
(1b) Some people dislike some of his actions but generally approve of his ideals.
If you know how many, you could use "Most" or "A few" or "A minority". However "some" doesn't sound bad when it's used twice there.

(2a) I don't have enough gift wrap for the watch we bought for Jack's birthday.
"to wrap" is not needed, as there is no other way to use gift-wrap on a birthday gift.
I added "we bought" because "for the watch for Jack's birthday" didn't sound very good. Adding the verb separates the two "for"s.

(3a) I'm not thirsty. I don't think I'll drink my coffee right now.

******************
One of the most common "doubles" is "that that" and it does have certain "rules" or "conventions".

In many cases, the two words are pronounced differently - often the second "that" is stressed heavily and the first is not, so it sounds like "thet thAt". In writing the second would be underlined.

"He said that that was the one he wanted."
"He said that that dog was the one he wanted."

*****************
When a noun comes after "that" and is also followed by a relative clause, use "who" or "which" - or omit one of the "that"s.

"The reason that the dog that bit him was forgiven is that it was very young."
"The reason the dog that bit him was forgiven is that it was very young."

"She said that the boy that she saw had black hair."
"She said that the boy she saw had black hair."
"She said that the boy who she saw had black hair."

tautophile
Posted: Sunday, June 6, 2021 8:17:01 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/14/2018
Posts: 1,589
Neurons: 35,629
In sentences (2a) and (3a), one of the twice-used words is a noun, but the other is a verb, so they're not really "the same word". Instead of "drink my drink", you could say "imbibe my tipple", which means the same thing but uses neither the noun nor the verb "drink", or you could say "drink my beverage" or "sip my drink", both of which use "drink" as a noun or a verb in the phrase, but not as a verb or a noun in the same phrase. So it's not incorrect to use the same word twice (or even more times) in a sentence--just be careful about it.

There's a famous puzzle about punctuating sentences that have single and double quotation marks/inverted commas: Punctuate the sentence "James where John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher". The answer, using single and double quotes and punctuation and italics to make things clearer, is, "James, where John had had "had", had had "had had"; "had had" had had a better effect on the teacher."
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