Run-on Sentences

Run-on sentences are special types of sentences that are not actually correct ones. In this lesson, you will learn how to fix them.

What Are Run-on Sentences in English?

What Are Run-On Sentences?

Run-on sentences are two independent clauses that are joined to each other in the wrong way and/or with the wrong punctuation. These sentences are not grammatically correct.

Run-On Sentences: Types

The error which leads to the formation of run-on sentences can make two types of run-on sentences:

  • fused sentences
  • comma splices

Fused Sentences

If a conjunction or a punctuation mark is missing between two independent clauses, a fused sentence is created. Here are the examples:

We could see him he had no idea what he was doing.

Sarah couldn't deliver her speech she lost track of time.

Comma Splices

If we use only a comma to link two independent clauses, then there is a run-on sentence which is called comma splices. Here are the examples:

People were left alone in the streets, they didn't help homeless people.

We could be together now, he left without saying goodbye.

Using a Complex Sentence

How to Fix Run-On Sentences?

There are a few ways in which you can fix a run-on sentence and change it to a correct sentence. They include:

  1. using a period
  2. using semi-colon
  3. using coordinating conjunctions
  4. using conjunctive adverbs
  5. rewrite the sentence (if possible)
  6. make a complex sentence

Using a Period

If there are two independent clauses following each other with no conjunction in between, you can use a period (also called full stop) to separate the two clauses and avoid a run-on sentence. Check out the examples:

We talked to Jimmy. He was getting ready for his trip.

The students wanted to have fun. Sam was not that enthusiastic, though.

Using Semi-Colon

If the ideas of the clauses are related to each other, you can also use a semi-colon instead of a period. Here are a few examples:

Patricia couldn't go out; she had the most important exam ever.

We decided to vote for Marco; he seems logical.

Using Coordinating Conjunctions

We can link two independent clauses using coordinating conjunctions. Remember, you must use a comma before a coordinating conjunction. Here are a few examples:

They decided to separate, yet they loved each other.

She wanted to get married to John, but her true love was Sam.

Using Conjunctive Adverbs

Sometimes we can use conjunctive adverbs to link two independent clauses. Remember, you should always use a semi-colon before, and a comma after a conjunctive adverb. The most common conjunctive adverbs are:

  • also, besides, consequently, finally, however, indeed
  • moreover, nevertheless, next, otherwise
  • instead, likewise, meanwhile, still, therefore

Here are a few examples:

You should take responsibility for your own actions; otherwise, you cannot change the situation.

You don't have a house; besides, you do not have a job.

Rewriting the Sentences

Sometimes, the subjects of the two independent clauses are the same. So, you can easily link the verbs together by using 'and' between them. Compare these two sentences:

We had lunch. We played football after that.

We had lunch and played football after that.

Using a Complex Sentence

If one of the clauses can somehow be used as a dependent clause; you can combine the clauses by using a subordinating conjunction to form a complex sentence. Compare the examples:

I was there you were having lunch. → run-on sentence

I was there, while you were having lunch. → complex sentence

Review

An error in joining two independent clauses can cause run-on sentences that are actually two types:

  1. fused sentences
  2. comma splices

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