home :: run-on sentences lesson
Run-on sentences are sentences with "signal" problems. Readers look for punctuation to signal the end of one independent clause and the beginning of another. Without appropriate punctuation readers are forced to determine the correct relationships, or else abandon the text altogether out of frustration. There are three variations of run-on sentences: sentences that use only a comma to join independent clauses, or "comma splices," sentences without any punctuation at all connecting independent clauses, or "fused sentences," and sentences that are simply joined by coordinating conjunctions like "and," without a comma. If a writer wants to be heard, she must be able to tell the reader how her ideas go together.
In this module students will learn
Correcting Comma Splices
A comma splice occurs when a comma is used without a coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses together, as in the following sentence:
Stronger punctuation is needed to connect two independent clauses. We can use a semi-colon if the logical connection between the statements is clear:
We can also use a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, or, for, nor, but, so, or yet) to connect two independent clauses. This is a good choice if the relationship between the clauses is unclear or needs emphasis:
Separating the two clauses into two independent sentences with a period is always an option. Note, however, that a period creates stronger separation between ideas than the other options.
Rewriting the sentence to turn one independent clause into a dependent (or subordinate) clause is another option:
Often comma splices occur when the second clause begins with "this," "these," "that," or "those"; pay close attention to your sentence structure whenever you see these pronouns in your writing:
Correcting Fused Sentences
Sentences are said to be "fused" when there is no punctuation connecting independent clauses. A coordinating conjunction may be present in a fused sentence, but without an accompanying comma, the punctuation is still inadequate.
Use the same techniques for correcting fused sentences as you would use to correct comma splices (as described in the previous section).
1. comma splices
2. fused sentences