A run-on sentence is composed of two or more independent clauses fused with improper conjunction or punctuation. This can be somewhat challenging to readers and hinder the author from conveying the intended message correctly. People often mistake lengthy sentences for run-on sentences which isn’t necessarily the case. There is nothing wrong with fusing multiple related concepts in one compound sentence. However, if you aren’t conversant with syntax and punctuation rules, you’re more likely to end up with a run-on sentence.
What is A Run-on Sentence?
A run-on sentence is a sentence that is not properly constituted as far as grammar is concerned. It occurs when two main clauses are joined with the wrong punctuation or conjunction.
A sentence can only contain two or more independent clauses if they are properly fused. To correctly fuse clauses, proper punctuation or conjunction must be incorporated into the sentence.
Notwithstanding their name, run-on sentences have no connection with length. In fact, some run-on sentences are pretty short. The only thing that justifies a sentence is run-on is when two or more independent clauses exist without proper punctuation or conjunction joining them.
Run-on Sentence Examples
- I love to play computer games I would play daily if I had time.
There are two independent clauses (complete sentences) in the above example:
- Sentence 1: I love to play computer games.
- Sentence 2: I would play daily if I had time.
A comma splice is one of the typical forms of a run-on sentence. A comma splice occurs when more than one main clause is connected with just a comma and no conjunction.
Examples of a Comma Splice
Health professionals could down their tools any time, they need their grievances addressed.
- Sentence 1: Health professionals could down their tools at any time.
- Sentence 2: They need their grievances addressed.
The two independent clauses are complete sentences joined with just a comma to form a compound sentence.
A comma splice can exist when an author tries to use a transitional expression in between a sentence.
Comma splice examples:
The outcome of the poll was disputed; therefore a comprehensive probe of the voting materials needs to be done to unravel what transpired.
- Sentence 1: The outcome of the poll was disputed.
Transitional word: therefore
- Sentence 2: Comprehensive probe of the voting materials needs to be done to unravel what transpired.
To redress the issue of comma splice in the above example, introduce a semicolon prior to the transitional expression and a comma after it.
Revision: The outcome of the poll was disputed; therefore, a comprehensive probe of the voting materials needs to be done to unravel what transpired.
The allegations leveled against the governor were baseless, therefore more investigations need to be done on the matter.
- Sentence 1: The allegations leveled against the governor were baseless.
Transitional expression: therefore
- Sentence 2: More investigations need to be done on the matter.
Similar to example 1, to address this type of comma splice, add a semicolon prior to the transitional expression and comma after.
Revision: The allegations leveled against the governor were baseless; therefore, more investigations need to be done on the matter.
Correcting Run-On Sentences
A run-on sentence can be addressed by fusing its main clauses correctly. There are multiple ways to join main (independent) clauses appropriately. They include:
Use of a period
The most appropriate way to address run-on sentences is to break them into small sentences using a full stop. This technique is ideal for lengthy sentences. However, take note so that this remedy doesn’t lead to short, choppy sentences.
- Revision example: I love to play computer games. I would play daily if I had time.
Use a Semicolon
When a semicolon is added between two main clauses, it addresses the issue of run-on sentences. The use of a semicolon is a stylistic choice that creates a close connection between two independent clauses.
- Revision example: I love to play computer games; I would play daily if I had time.
Use a comma and a conjunction
Another way to fix a run-on sentence is to pair a comma with a coordinating conjunction like “and,” “or,” “but”, etc. This technique underlines the connection between clauses.
- Revision example: I love to play computer games, and I would play daily if I had time.
Use a subordinating conjunction
This method works by converting one of the two clauses into a dependent. A subordinating conjunction joins the two clauses to form a complex sentence. The strategy works to glue the connection between the two clauses and may enhance the flow of the two parts of the sentence.
- Example: Because I love to play computer games, I would play daily if I had time.
Always remember to fix run-on sentences to make your writing clear and fascinating for your audience.