Run-on Sentences

How to Avoid Run-on Sentences

by Owen Fourie

What is wrong with these statements?

  1. It was a cold day snow was forecast by the meteorologists.
  2. My neighbor is a keen gardener she cultivated prizewinning roses last summer.
  3. Many strong swimmers have struggled at that point there is a dangerous cross-current there.
  4. Last night, I slept comfortably on my new mattress it is an import from Sweden.
  5. Our cat likes to be completely comfortable at all times, she doesn’t seem to mind getting her paws wet in the fishbowl.
  6. We rode in an old wagon, it had been made by a relative of Buffalo Bill.
  7. That restaurant belongs to the mayor he is the tallest man in the town.
  8. By accident, Stephen had trodden on their compass and broken it, the boys were not sure that they were heading in the right direction.

What is a run-on?

  • In the examples above, we see run-on sentences.
  • These are sentences that have two separate parts that have not been distinguished or connected properly.
  • They contain independent clauses that have become fused or joined together. Sometimes, the term “fused sentences” is used to describe this error.

Run-on sentences can be corrected in various ways. Here are some of those ways:

1.

  • It was a cold day snow was forecast by the meteorologists.
  • The two independent clauses are “it was a cold day” and “snow was forecast by the meteorologists”.
  • Between the words day and snow there needs to be a clear separation.
  • There are various ways to do this. One way would be to simply make these two parts two short sentences by inserting a period after day and making the first letter of snow a capital letter.
  • A better way is to supply a comma after day followed by a coordinating conjunction.
  • It was a cold day, and snow was forecast by the meteorologists.

2.

 

  • My neighbor is a keen gardener she cultivated prizewinning roses last summer.
  • Again, two independent clauses are fused together.
  • Instead of distinguishing them by turning them into two sentences or connecting them properly with a comma and a conjunction, use a semicolon.
  • Using a semicolon is fine when the two independent parts are closely related as they are here.
  • My neighbor is a keen gardener; she cultivated prizewinning roses last summer.

3.

  • Many strong swimmers have struggled at that point there is a dangerous cross-current there.
  • Another way to correct a run-on is to turn one of the independent clauses into a subordinate clause.
  • In this example, the second independent clause is turned into a subordinate (adverbial) clause by letting it begin with the word because, which is a subordinating conjunction.
  • Many strong swimmers have struggled at that point because there is a dangerous cross-current there.

4.

 

  • Last night, I slept comfortably on my new mattress it is an import from Sweden.
  • This run-on can be corrected by making the second independent clause a subordinate adjectival clause describing the mattress.
  • Relative pronouns (who, which, that) can be used to introduce adjectival clauses.
  • Last night, I slept comfortably on my new mattress, which is an import from Sweden.
  • Since the information that the mattress is from Sweden is additional and not essential, the relative pronoun is preceded by a comma.

5.

  • Our cat likes to be completely comfortable at all times, she doesn’t seem to mind getting her paws wet in the fishbowl.
  • In this example, the independent clauses are separated by a comma, which is too weak for this purpose. This is called a comma-splice.
  • We could turn this into two sentences using a period and a capital, or we could keep the comma with the coordinating conjunction but following it.
  • Another solution would be to turn the first independent clause into a subordinate clause by letting it begin with the subordinating conjunction although.
  • Although our cat likes to be completely comfortable at all times, she doesn’t seem to mind getting her paws wet in the fishbowl.

6.

  • We rode in an old wagon, it had been made by a relative of Buffalo Bill.
  • Here is another comma splice.
  • We’ll correct this error by turning the second independent clause into a past participial phrase. The word made is the past participle here.
  • We rode in an old wagon made by a relative of Buffalo Bill.

7.

  • That restaurant belongs to the mayor he is the tallest man in the town.
  • The second independent clause in this run-on describes the owner of the restaurant who has a particular attribute—the tallest man in the town.
  • One simple way to eliminate this run-on error is to use the relative pronoun who.
  • That restaurant belongs to the mayor, who is the tallest man in the town.
  • Another way to correct this error is to use an appositive.
  • An appositive phrase defines or modifies a noun in another phrase or clause in the same sentence.
  • That restaurant belongs to the mayor, the tallest man in the town.

8.

  • By accident, Stephen had trodden on their compass and broken it, the boys were not sure that they were heading in the right direction.
  • Here is another comma splice.
  • There is an incident described in the first clause, and the second clause shows the effect.
  • What is needed here to correct the structural error is a conjunctive adverb showing how the ideas expressed in the two independent clauses are related. In this instance, it is a relationship of cause and effect.
  • Note that the original comma is replaced by a semicolon, which is followed by the conjunctive adverb and a comma.
  • By accident, Stephen had trodden on their compass and broken it; consequently, the boys were not sure that they were heading in the right direction.
  • Some other conjunctive adverbs are

therefore, then, thus, accordingly (to show an effect, a result);

however, nonetheless, nevertheless (to show contrast);

moreover, furthermore, additionally (to show continuity of thought).

Avoiding run-ons

  • As you write your formal papers, be conscious of the requirement to write sentences in which independent clauses are properly separated and correctly connected.
  • When you proofread your work, look for run-on sentences.
  • Study the various ways in which corrections can be made and apply the solution that fits into the flow of what you are saying.
  • The best solution will be one that will avoid repeating a similar sentence structure in the previous or following sentence.
  • Too many “, and” connections will mean too many compound sentences strung together. Use a subordinating conjunction instead and have a good mixture of simple, compound, and complex sentences.

—–

If you find run-ons in your own writing, how do you test the situation to apply the proper correction? Do you have any useful insights? What are your particular struggles? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

Copyright © 2011 by English Essay Writing Tips www.englishessaywritingtips.com


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.