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Run-On Sentence

A run-on sentence is a long sentence that is made up of two independent clauses joined together.

These clauses in run-on sentences are connected without a conjunction or punctuation mark. In most examples, the combination of these two independent clauses is problematic and should be separated. It is usually unnecessary to put the two clauses into one sentence, and one’s writing normally sounds better if some kind of punctuation or conjunction is used. Run-on sentences are sometimes confusing due to the amount of information the writer is throwing at the reader. 

Run-On Sentence pronunciation: ruhn-ahn sin-ten-ses
Run-On Sentence definition and examples


Definition of Run-On Sentence

Run-on sentences are (usually) grammatically incorrect, long sentences in which the writer has connected two or more independent clauses without punctuation. More often than not, run-on sentences should be corrected. But, some writers use them on purpose. This might be done in order to mimic a character’s thought or speech pattern. It might also be done for stylistic purposes or in order to create a specific effect. In academic writing, one should always correct run-on sentences. 


Types of Run-On Sentences 

Fused Sentence 

A fused sentence occurs when a writer connects two clauses, or complete sentences, without using any punctuation. The two clauses would make perfect sense on their own and can (usually) be easily divided. Here are some examples of fused sentences: 

  • Don’t you think it would be better if you went to the store now she can take care of the kids for you. 
  • She loved the food he ordered for her on her birthday however she preferred to get presents instead. 
  • He knows that making dinner takes a lot of time it’s a special day today and he wants to make the effort. 
  • After they visited the zoo they stopped to eat lunch at the diner where the kids ran wild shouting about the animals they’d seen. 
  • Nobody at the convenience store saw her drop her cellphone she accused them all of stealing it after returning an hour later. 

These sentences can be corrected as demonstrated below: 

  • Don’t you think it would be better if you went to the store now? She can take care of the kids for you.
  • She loved the food he ordered for her on her birthday; however, she preferred to get presents instead.
  • He knows that making dinner takes a lot of time. He wants to make the effort, it’s a special day today.
  • After they visited the zoo they stopped to eat lunch at the diner. The kids ran wild, shouting about the animals they’d seen.
  • Nobody at the convenience store saw her drop her cellphone.  She returned an hour later and accused them all of stealing it.


Comma Splice Sentence 

This type of run-on sentence occurs when two independent clauses are joined together with a comma. The comma is too weak to adequately connect the sentences together. In most cases, they should be split with some type of end-punctuation. Consider these examples: 

  • They’re all asleep now, they’re looking so peaceful and calm. 
  • She went to the store to buy eggs, she came back without finding them. 
  • My friends can come to the party whenever they want, they need to decide what they’re going to do. 
  • I ran out of food for the meeting, therefore I need to go to the store to get more. 
  • He loves to do math, he’d do it every day if he could. 

These sentences are all examples of run-one, comma splice sentences. They can be corrected as demonstrated below: 

  • They’re all asleep now. They’re looking so peaceful and calm. 
  • They’re all asleep now and looking so peaceful and calm. 
  • She went to the store to buy eggs and she came back without finding them. 
  • She went to the store to buy eggs. She came back without finding them. 
  • My friends can come to the party whenever they want. They need to decide what they’re going to do. 
  • My friends can come to the party whenever they want and they need to decide what they’re going to do.
  • I ran out of food for the meeting. I need to go to the store to get more.
  • I ran out of food for the meeting; therefore, I need to go to the store to get more. 
  • He loves to do math and he’d do it every day if he could.
  • He loves to do math. He’d do it every day if he could.

These are not the only ways to correct these sentences. It is also possible to use other types of punctuation or rearranged the sentences in a different way. 


How to Correct Run-On Sentences 

In order to correct run-on sentences the best thing to do is find where the two independent clauses diverge. There is likely more than one idea at play in the sentence and the two (or more) need to be separated. Using a semicolon or period in between these sentences is usually the best way to go. Sometimes, the sentences benefit from the words being arranged. It might improve the sentence further to try a few other variations of the same clauses. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a comma and a coordinating conjunction. 

FAQs

Why are run-on sentences bad?

Most editors and instructors consider run-on sentences examples of bad grammar. They can make one’s writing more confusing. They are also unnecessary, considering how easy it is to fix them.

How to fix a run-on sentence?

It’s easy to fix a run-on sentence by adding some type of end punctuation or a comma and coordinating conjunction.

What is a run-on sentence?

A sentence that connects to independent clauses.

Can I use a run-on sentence?

You can sometimes get away with run-on sentences when writing dialogue or long, poetic-sounding passages of verse. It depends on the intentions of your work.

Do writers use run-on sentences?

Some writers use them when they want to convey a character’s thoughts or mimic someone’s natural speech pattern. They might also be used when writing poetry.


  • Coherence: refers to the properties of well-organized writing. This includes grammar, sentence structure, and plot elements.
  • Colloquial Diction: conversational in nature and can be seen through the use of informal words that represent a specific place or time.
  • Hypotaxis: the arrangement of constructs in grammar. It refers to the placement of functionally similar although unequal constructions.
  • Parataxis: a literary term used to describe the equal importance of a writer’s chosen words, phrases, or sentences.
  • End-Stopped Line: a pause that occurs at the end of a line of poetry. It might conclude a phrase or sentence.
  • Enjambment: occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point.


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