- Run-on sentences contain two or more independent clauses that aren’t properly separated and/or punctuated.
- Comma splices, fused sentences, and polysyndeton are the three types of run-on sentences.
- To identify a run-on sentence, look for multiple complete thoughts that aren’t properly separated.
Sometimes our brains work faster than our fingers. The result is often a jumble of thoughts that run together. In writing, we call these run-on sentences. If you want to know more about these sentences and how to fix them, we’ve got you covered.
What is a Run-on Sentence?
Whether you call it a run-on sentence, or just a hot mess, a sentence without proper punctuation can be downright confusing. When your audience can’t understand your writing, your meaning is inevitably lost. The good news is that it’s remarkably easy to turn a run-on into a grammatical masterpiece.
But first, a definition.
Run-on Sentence Examples
The best way to understand run-on sentences is to scroll through some examples.
Here, you actually have three separate thoughts:
- I went to the store
- They had asparagus
- I bought three bunches
Putting them back to back without a period, comma, and/or conjunction in between creates a confusing sentence.
“There wasn’t a cloud in the sky” and “It was the perfect weather for a picnic” do seem related. That makes it tempting to put them together. However, each clause is a complete thought on its own. Meaning, these two clauses require some kind of separation.
What are the Three Types of Run-on Sentences?
Let’s dig deeper into the murky world of run-on sentences by exploring the three most-common types, namely:
- comma splices
- fused sentences
Comma splices are sentences that contain two complete thoughts joined by a comma. While the sentence does contain punctuation, it’s the wrong kind. It should be split into two sentences, or the comma swapped out for a semicolon.
Fused sentences are probably the most common type of run-on sentence. They contain two independent clauses that run together without proper punctuation.
Polysyndetons refer to several complete thoughts connected by far too many conjunctions. This results in a very lengthy sentence that’s hard to follow.
How do you Identify a Run-On Sentence?
To help clean up you’re writing, go on a hunt for run-on sentences. Scour your content for sentences that contain more than one complete thought. Are they properly separated and/or punctuated? If there are two independent clauses jammed together, you likely have a run-on sentence. If you think the sentence has too many conjunctions like “and” or “but,” that may be a run-on sentence as well. When in doubt, separate complex sentences into shorter thoughts that are easier to track and comprehend.
What are the Five Ways to Correct a Run-On Sentence?
Realizing your text is peppered with run-ons? Don’t stress! These are small errors, and they’re easy to fix. All you need to do is separate the sentences. To do that, determine whether your idea would be best served by turning it into two sentences or inserting other punctuation.
1. Make two Separate Sentences
Sometimes the simplest thing to do is insert a period.
2. Use a Semicolon to Separate Independent Clauses
Another option is to use a semicolon, but only if the two clauses are closely related.
3. Use a Comma and a Coordinating Conjunction
Here, we separate run-on sentences by inserting a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction such as “and” or “but.”
4. Use a Semicolon, Conjunctive Adverb, and a Comma
Conjunctive adverbs are words like also, otherwise, and then that connect and smooth the transition between two independent clauses. They’re often used to show cause and effect or otherwise demonstrate why two ideas are related.
5. Split it into Two Separate Clauses and Use a Subordinate Conjunction
This method works similarly to the conjunctive adverb option above, except you’re going to use a subordinate conjunction. Using a subordinate conjunction turns the second clause into a dependent clause; it’s now secondary to the primary thought.