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3.2: Run-on Sentences

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    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.

    Fused sentence: A family of foxes lived under our shed young foxes played all over the yard.

    Notice that there are two sentences here, one about a family of foxes, which ends with the word shed, and another about the young foxes. These two sentences are simply run together without any punctuation, coordination, or subordination, creating a fused sentence.

    Comma splice: We looked outside, the kids were hopping on the trampoline.

    Here the break between the two sentences is marked with only a comma. Since a comma is not a legitimate way to connect independent clauses, this creates a comma splice.

    Correcting Run-ons with Punctuation

    One way to correct run-on sentences is to correct the punctuation. For example, adding a period will correct the run-on by creating two separate sentences. 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.

    Run-on (fused sentence): The accident closed both lanes of traffic we waited an hour for the wreckage to be cleared.

    Corrected sentence: The accident closed both lanes of traffic; we waited an hour for the wreckage to be cleared.

    When you use a semicolon to separate two independent clauses, you may wish to add a conjunctive adverb to show the connection between the two thoughts. After the semicolon, add the conjunctive adverb and follow it with a comma.

    Run-on (comma splice): The project was put on hold, we didn’t have time to slow down, so we kept working.

    Corrected sentence: The project was put on hold; however, we didn’t have time to slow down, so we kept working.

    Coordinating conjunctions (remember FANBOYS) and subordination, discussed in the sections on Compound Sentences and Complex Sentences, can also be used to fix run-ons.

    Use these criteria to test for sentence fragments & run-ons:

    Does the sentence contain two independent clauses? (word groups that can stand alone as a sentence) → (Yes) → You have a fused sentence.

    Are the clauses joined with a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so or yet)? → (Yes) You have a complete sentence.

    Are the clauses joined with a semicolon? → (Yes) You have a complete sentence

    → (NO) Revise. You have a run-on.

    Key Takeaways

    • A sentence is complete when it contains both a subject and verb (predicate). A complete sentence makes sense on its own.
    • Every sentence must have a subject, which usually appears at the beginning of the sentence. A subject may be a noun (a person, place, or thing) or a pronoun.
    • A compound subject contains more than one noun.
    • A prepositional phrase describes, or modifies, another word in the sentence but cannot be the subject of a sentence.
    • A verb is often an action word that indicates what the subject is doing. Verbs may be action verbs (transitive or intransitive), linking verbs, or helping verbs.
    • Remembering the five basic sentence patterns is useful when correcting grammar errors.
    • Fragments and run-on sentences are two common errors in sentence construction.
    • Fragments can be corrected by adding a missing subject or verb or combining a dependent clause with an independent clause.
    • Run-on sentences can be corrected by adding appropriate punctuation or using coordination or subordination.


    Revise the following run-on sentences. You may use any method you prefer to do so.

    1. The tobacco executive did not really mean that the facts were other than they seemed, he meant that factuality was the enemy.
    2. “He’s not a liar by nature,” Dr. Stockman said, “he’s just an ambitious man who can’t help himself.”
    3. McIntyre’s use of rhetorical strategies in this chapter are very admirable, McIntyre uses many studies to support his claims on how cognitive bias is a big role in our society.
    4. Raphael viewed Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars five times and then wrote a paper describing it as a brilliant reworking of both Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest.
    5. I really liked how Snyder formatted his evidence, he gives studies on how “the politics of inevitability” is being used in Russia.
    6. While reading the book, I started to pick up on Paine’s rhetorical strategies, he tends to use ethos more than pathos.
    7. The campus has pledged itself to use solar power in its new buildings trying to improve its carbon footprint.
    8. Before the 19th century, people thought of beaches as dangerous locales, a place for pirates to dock ship and for mermaids to lead men to their watery deaths Romanticism changed that however.
    9. Hip hop isn’t what it used to be, it used to be dope.
    10. Although sentences can be really long—ungainly even—with my independent and dependent clauses, they can still be complete sentences.

    Contributors and Attributions

    3.2: Run-on Sentences is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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