Definition: A run-on sentence is a grammatically incorrect sentence that has two or more complete sentences connected without any punctuation.
Identifying Run-on Sentences:
Look for more than one independent clause in a sentence. If there is no punctuation joining them together, then this is likely a run-on sentence. Another trick is to look for two subjects (which can include a subject and its pronoun) in the same sentence. If they are not separated with a punctuation mark, then it is likely a run-on sentence.
- She touched the stove it was hot. (Notice that there are two independent clauses with no punctuation. This is a run-on sentence.)
- She touched the stove. It was hot. (The run-on was fixed by interesting the proper punctuation.)
Sometimes run-on sentences are turned into comma splices. A comma splice is another grammatical error. It comes from separating two independent clauses with a single comma. So, you cannot fix a run-on sentence with a single comma.
Here are the four main ways to fix run-on sentences:
1. Use a semi-colon to separate the clauses.
Run-on: I have three cars my favorite is the convertible.
Corrected: I have three cars. My favorite is the convertible.
2. Break it into two separate sentences.
Run-on: Charlotte is happy she is always smiling.
Corrected: Charlotte is happy. She is always smiling.
3. Add a comma and a subordinating conjunction
Examples of subordinating conjunctions include: as, even though, because, since, while, until, although, before, after, unless, if, when.
Run-on: Charlie was tired he went to bed.
Corrected: Since Charlie was tired, he went to bed.
4. Add a comma and a coordinating conjunction
Examples of coordinating conjunctions include: but, or, and, for, nor, yet, so.
Run-on: Anna studied hard she still failed the test.
Corrected: Anna studied hard, but she still failed the test.
Related: Now learn about sentence fragments here.
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