What Is a Run-on Sentence? (with Examples)

Marcus Froland

Have you ever found yourself lost in a sentence that seems to go on forever? You’re not alone. Many people, from beginners to advanced English learners, stumble upon sentences that are hard to follow. These are called run-on sentences. They can make reading and understanding texts more difficult than it needs to be.

Recognizing and fixing run-on sentences can greatly improve your writing skills. It’s a game-changer for anyone looking to sharpen their communication. And guess what? It’s not as hard as it sounds. But what exactly makes a sentence a “run-on”? Hang tight, because we’re about to clear the air.

A run-on sentence happens when you connect two or more main ideas without the right punctuation or connecting words. Imagine you’re running and don’t stop for a break; that’s what happens in a run-on sentence with ideas. To fix it, you can use a period, comma plus a conjunction (like “and” or “but”), or a semicolon. Here’s an example of a run-on: “I love to read I read every day.” It should be: “I love to read. I read every day.” or “I love to read, and I read every day.” Remember, clear writing makes your ideas easy to understand.

Understanding the Basics of a Run-on Sentence

Before diving into the world of run-on sentences, it’s essential to understand the basics of independent and dependent clauses and how they contribute to complete sentences. Familiarize yourself with the grammatical units that comprise a sentence and the common misunderstandings that lead to run-ons. This comprehension will help you identify and correct these errors in your writing.

Defining Independent and Dependent Clauses

At the heart of run-on sentences are independent clauses and dependent clauses, two types of grammatical units that differ in structure and function. An independent clause is a group of words containing both a subject and a predicate. It can stand alone as a complete sentence, expressing a complete thought. For example:

She loves to read.

A dependent clause, on the other hand, contains a subject and a verb but cannot stand alone as a sentence. It depends on an independent clause for its meaning. Here’s an example:

When the weather is nice

In this case, the dependent clause must be joined with an independent clause:

When the weather is nice, she loves to read outdoors.

Understanding the distinction between these clause types is crucial for identifying and correcting run-on sentences.

Common Misunderstandings Leading to Run-Ons

Run-on sentences often stem from common grammatical misunderstandings. Many writers fail to recognize when a sentence lacks a subject or predicate, resulting in a sentence fragment or an incorrectly joined clause. Consider this example:

I want to write a book my friends would enjoy.

This sentence has two independent clauses improperly joined without necessary punctuation or conjunctions. A corrected version could be:

I want to write a book, and I want my friends to enjoy it.

To avoid creating run-on sentences, it’s crucial to identify any missing or mismatched elements. The following table illustrates several examples of run-on sentences corrected by addressing these issues:

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Run-on Sentence Corrected Sentence
She enjoys baking he likes cooking. She enjoys baking, and he likes cooking.
It was a hot day we went swimming. It was a hot day, so we went swimming.
I went shopping I bought some clothes. I went shopping. I bought some clothes.

By recognizing and understanding independent clauses, dependent clauses, sentence fragments, and the role of subjects and predicates, you can successfully identify and correct run-on sentences in your writing, leading to complete thoughts and improved clarity.

Identifying Run-On Sentences in Writing

To properly identify run-on sentences, it is essential to determine the sentence boundaries, ensuring that each independent clause is separated by proper punctuation or conjunctions. By examining the clauses within a sentence and their main purposes, writers can spot run-ons and consider effective methods for correcting them.

Three sequential steps can help pinpoint and ultimately fix run-on sentences:

  1. Identify the individual independent clauses in a sentence.
  2. Assess the punctuation or conjunctions used to join the independent clauses.
  3. Correct any improper clause joining, such as fused sentences or comma splices.

Having a strategy for securing sentence boundaries helps create clear and concise writing. Here are a few techniques to sharpen these skills:

Pay close attention to coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) when joining independent clauses. These conjunctions are useful for organizing your thoughts, improving readability, and preventing run-ons.

Avoid treating comma splices or fused sentences as a single sentence. Remember, two independent clauses must be connected using proper punctuation and conjunctions, maintaining sentence boundaries and writing clarity.

Here is an example of a run-on sentence and how it can be corrected:

Run-On Sentence Corrected Version
I wanted to go to the party, I wasn’t sure if I should attend. I wanted to go to the party, but I wasn’t sure if I should attend.
She prepared for the marathon she trained every day. She prepared for the marathon; she trained every day.

With these strategies in mind, you can expertly identify and correct run-on sentences. By doing so, you improve your writing clarity and maintain sentence boundaries that make your writing cohesive and effective.

Types of Run-on Sentences: Fused Sentences and Comma Splices

Run-on sentences typically occur in two forms: fused sentences and comma splices. Both forms create confusion and hinder the clarity of the writing. In this section, we will explore the differences between these two types of run-on sentences and provide guidance on how to identify and correct them.

What Is a Fused Sentence?

A fused sentence takes place when two or more independent clauses are joined without any punctuation. This omission of punctuation leads to confusion and a breakdown in sentence structure, causing clauses to run together inappropriately. The missing punctuation, which can be a period, semicolon, or comma with a coordinating conjunction, is crucial in separating the clauses and preserving the intended meaning of the text.

A fused sentence example:
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing her eyes widened in shock.

To correct a fused sentence, you can introduce the proper punctuation between the independent clauses. In this example, a semicolon or a period would be the appropriate punctuation:

Corrected version:
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing; her eyes widened in shock.
or
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Her eyes widened in shock.

Recognizing and Correcting Comma Splices

A comma splice occurs when two or more independent clauses are incorrectly separated by only a comma, without the necessary conjunction. Like a fused sentence, a comma splice is a type of run-on sentence that can lead to confusion and disrupt the flow of the writing.

A comma splice example:
I wanted to go hiking, it was raining heavily.

Recognizing comma splices allows writers to correct them by adding appropriate conjunctions, replacing the comma with a semicolon, or separating the clauses with a period. In this example, you can choose one of the following corrections:

Corrected versions:
I wanted to go hiking, but it was raining heavily.
or
I wanted to go hiking; it was raining heavily.
or
I wanted to go hiking. It was raining heavily.

Understanding the differences between fused sentences and comma splices is crucial for identifying and correcting these common run-on sentence errors. By using proper punctuation and conjunctions, you can ensure your writing is clear, concise, and accurately conveys your intended message.

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Effective Methods to Fix Run-on Sentences

Fixing run-on sentences is crucial to improving the clarity and structure of your writing. Successful correction methods often employ punctuation and conjunctions to separate independent clauses and ensure that your ideas are conveyed concisely. This section provides an overview of various strategies for addressing run-on sentences, focusing on the use of punctuation and conjunctions.

Using Punctuation to Separate Ideas

Effective punctuation methods play an essential role in separating clauses and ensuring that your sentences are clear and accurate. Some common punctuation techniques for dealing with run-on sentences include:

  • Periods: separating the clauses into two independent sentences
  • Semicolons: connecting two closely related independent clauses without using a conjunction
  • Commas: used in conjunction with coordinating conjunctions to link independent clauses

“I tried to call her, she didn’t pick up.” (Run-on sentence)
Corrected version: “I tried to call her, but she didn’t pick up.”

When fixing run-on sentences, always choose the appropriate punctuation based on the context and intended meaning of your writing.

The Role of Conjunctions in Fluid Writing

Conjunctions play a significant role in creating fluid sentence construction. They help in joining clauses logically while avoiding the creation of run-on sentences. Both coordinating and subordinating conjunctions can be used, depending on the intended relationship between the clauses.

Coordinating conjunctions:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Subordinating conjunctions:

  • After
  • Although
  • Because
  • If
  • Since
  • Unless
  • While

Choosing the right type of conjunction is crucial in correcting run-on sentences and achieving fluid sentence construction. In addition to proper punctuation, correct use of coordinating and subordinating conjunctions can help you transform your writing into a coherent, well-structured piece that effectively communicates your ideas.

Real-World Examples of Run-on Sentences and Corrections

Understanding common run-on sentence errors is essential for proper grammar correction and writing improvement. By examining real-world examples of run-on sentences, we can better comprehend the typical mistakes and learn the best methods to fix them. Let’s analyze a few instances of run-on sentences and their subsequent corrections.

Fused Sentence Example: She returned the book her friend was disappointed. In this sentence, two independent clauses with no punctuation create confusion. The corrected version should read: She returned the book; her friend was disappointed. By adding a semicolon, we separate the clauses, resulting in a correctly structured sentence.

Comma Splice Example: The traffic was heavy, she arrived late. Here, the error appears as two clauses incorrectly joined by a comma without the necessary conjunction. The corrected version would be: The traffic was heavy, so she arrived late. Introducing the coordinating conjunction “so” with the comma ensures proper sentence structure.

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Being able to identify and correct run-on sentences is crucial for clear and effective communication. By familiarizing yourself with common errors, such as fused sentences and comma splices, you can improve your writing skills and produce coherent, well-structured sentences that accurately convey your intended message.

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