Express your ideas clearly and accurately. Don’t be put off by the grammatical terms, but rather focus on the ways you can correct your mistakes in grammar.
Just as short, incomplete sentences can be problematic, lengthy sentences can be problematic too. Sentences with two or more independent clauses that have been incorrectly combined are known as run-on sentences. A run-on sentence may be either a fused sentence or a comma splice.
When two complete sentences are combined into one without any punctuation, the result is a fused sentence.
A family of foxes lived under our shed young foxes played all over the yard.
When two complete sentences are joined by a comma, the result is a comma splice. Both errors can easily be fixed.
We looked outside, the kids were jumping on the trampoline.
Correct run-on sentences: Punctuation
One way to correct run-on sentences is to correct the punctuation. For example, adding a full stop will correct the run-on by creating two separate sentences.
There were no seats left, we had to stand in the back.
There were no seats left. We had to stand in the back.
Using a semicolon between the two complete sentences will also correct the error. A semicolon allows you to keep the two closely related ideas together in one sentence. When you punctuate with a semicolon, make sure that both parts of the sentence are independent clauses.
The accident closed both lanes of traffic we waited an hour for the wreckage to be cleared.
The accident closed both lanes of traffic; we waited an hour for the wreckage to be cleared.
Correct run-on sentences: Coordinating conjunctions
You can also fix run-on sentences by adding a comma and a coordinating conjunction. A coordinating conjunction acts as a link between two independent clauses.
The new printer was installed, no one knew how to use it.
The new printer was installed, but no one knew how to use it.
These are the seven coordinating conjunctions that you can use: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Use these words appropriately when you want to link the two independent clauses. The acronym FANBOYS will help you remember this group of coordinating conjunctions.
Correct run-on sentences: Dependent words
Adding dependent words is another way to link independent clauses. Like the coordinating conjunctions, dependent words show a relationship between two independent clauses.
We took the elevator, the others still got there before us.
Although we took the elevator, the others got there before us.
Cobwebs covered the furniture, the room hadn’t been used in years.
Cobwebs covered the furniture because the room hadn’t been used in years.
Improve your writing
Practise correcting run-on sentences with this activities.Activity
University of Bristol. (n.d.). Run-on sentences exercise. Retrieved from http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/exercises/grammar/grammar_tutorial/page_77.htm#runonex
This work includes material from the following sources:
The Saylor Foundation. (2013). Writing for success. Retrieved from http://www.saylor.org/site/textbooks/Writing%20for%20Success.pdf Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0