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Run-On Sentences

A run-on sentence contains one or more independent clauses but does not have all the proper words and marks of punctuation that are required to join independent clauses.

 

Example

David went on a field trip to an aquarium with his classmates and they saw a large variety of fish.

In this example, two independent clauses are joined with a coordinating conjunction, but there is no comma. This type of run-on sentence is called a fused sentence. A fused sentence can also lack both a comma and a conjunction such as in the following example:
 

 

The debate over alien existence will probably continue for years some are sure they have seen aliens.

This next sentence contains a comma but no coordinating conjunction:
 

 

Many people believe in the powers of a psychic, sometimes even detectives depend on psychics to help solve crimes.

Because this sentence contains a comma but no coordinating conjunction, it is called a comma splice.
 


To correct run-on sentences in your writing.
  • (Step 1) identify them.
  • (Step 2) revise them.

Step-1

Identify run-on sentences in your writing.
 
To find run-on sentences in your writing, first analyze each sentence. In your analysis, mark the subject and verb by underlining the subject once and the verb twice.
 
Following are some examples:
 
Example

Osteoporosis is very common among women but drinking milk and taking calcium supplements can help prevent it.

This example is a fused sentence because it contains two independent clauses linked by a coordinating conjunction but no comma.

History provides us with interesting stories, it also helps us in the future because we can learn from mistakes made in history.

This example is a comma splice because it contains two independent clauses linked by a comma but no coordinating conjunction. These examples contain only two independent clauses that are not combined correctly. Many writers also link multiple clauses incorrectly. If you are prone to this error, it is important that you take the time to go through each sentence and identify the subjects and verbs. From there, you can revise your sentences accurately.
 

Step-2

Revise your run-on sentences by using one of five methods:
  • Separate the clauses in to complete sentences.
Example

(Run-on) Working together as a team is more productive than working individually, a team can get more accomplished than one person.
 
(Revised) Working together as a team is more productive than working individually. A team can get more accomplished than one person.
 

  • Link the clauses with a semicolon.
Example

(Run-on) Writing is great therapy letting off steam through the written word is a good way to work through frustration.
 
(Revised) Writing is great therapy; letting off steam through the written word is a good way to work through frustration.
 

  • Link the clauses with a comma and a coordinating conjunction.
Example

(Run-on) I went to Florida last week to go to Disney World with a friend but it rained the whole time that I was there.
 
(Revised) I went to Florida last week to go to Disney World with a friend, but it rained the whole time that I was there.
 

  • Rewrite the clauses to form just one independent clause.
Example

(Run-on) This summer has been a very hot one, it has been humid also.
 
(Revised) This summer has been a very hot and humid one.
 

  • Rewrite the clauses to form one independent clause with an introductory dependent clause.
Example

(Run-on) We re-painted our house, the old paint was peeling and fading.
 
(Revised) Because the old paint was peeling and fading, we re-painted our house.
 


Make sure you review your work after making revisions to ensure that all run-on sentences have indeed been corrected. In addition, try to use all five methods of revision in your writing; don’t correct each run-on with the same method. Using different forms of revision will result in varying sentence patterns, which will enhance your writing style. We will discuss writing style shortly as well as strengthening the structure of your essay. First, however, let’s make sure you know how to apply the rules of punctuation we just covered.




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