Electron correlations of an electron liquid at metallic densities are studied by means of a diagrammatic method, the primary aim being the interpretation of the spectral structure observed for several metals in recent inelastic electron and x-ray scattering experiments. Several sum rules and requirements such as the positivity of the pair distribution function, the compressibility sum rule, the frequency moment sum rules, and the conservation law of the local electron number which have hitherto been regarded as guiding principles in theoretical formulation are first examined and discussed in a critical manner. Detailed examinations are made of the proper polarization function within the Hartree-Fock approximation. The lowest-order perturbation expressions giving two-pair excitations and one-pair-one-plasmon excitations are next examined. It is pointed out that these expressions are indeed divergent in the usual one-pair excitation region; the renormalization of the one-particle Green's function is indispensable there. From the above considerations and further discussions, the quasi-one-pair excitation approximation is presented for the purpose of describing the spectral shape in the dynamical structure factor S(q,ω) in the intermediate wave-number and intermediate frequency regions. In the quasi-one-pair excitation approximation the proper polarization function is constructed from a coherent part of the renormalized one-particle Green's function and a static part of the irreducible particle-hole interaction including strong short-range correlations.