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Run-on Sentences

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Fri Jun 04, 2010 8:52 pm
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canislupis says...

Run-on sentences are without a doubt one of the most common grammatical errors here on YWS, and no wonder, for not many people even know what they are or how to fix them. Personally, when I read a piece or story they just jump out at me, but obviously this is not the same for everyone, so I’ve created a little guide to help.

What is a run-on sentence?
If you put two sentences (or independent clauses) together without a sufficient amount of signals (commas, semicolons, or connecting words), you have created a run-on. For more information on independent clauses and compound sentences, go here.
How do I fix them?
Excellent question! There are three commonplace ways to do so.

Method #1
Write the two independent clauses as separate sentences using periods.
Incorrect: The computer is a useful tool it can be used to write stories.
Correct: The computer is a useful tool. It can be used to write stories.

Method #2
Use a semicolon to separate the two independent clauses.
Incorrect: The computer is a useful tool it can be used to write stories.
Correct: The computer is a useful tool; it can be used to write stories.

Method #3:
Use a comma and any one of the following connecting words:
For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So
Incorrect: The computer is a useful tool it can be used to write stories.
Correct: The computer is a useful tool, for it can be used to write stories.

Make sense? As you can see, correcting run-ons is quite easy once you find them.

But how do I find run-on sentences in my works?

If you’re anything like me, run-on sentences will soon become glaringly obvious when you read your work or someone else’s. For now, you can use this technique:
Read through selected text in your mind or out loud. Is there anywhere where a sentence feels rushed, switches between two ideas, or needs a pause in the middle for you to catch your breath? Chances are, it is a run-on. Now examine the sentence to see if it is joining two independent clauses. Every once in a while, you may see a really long sentence and think it's a run-on when it isn't. Really long sentences can be tiring but not necessarily wrong—just make absolutely sure.

Another method is to see if you can change the sentence into a question, like so:
"My favorite horse is an appaloosa."
Could be changed to:
"Is my favorite horse an appaloosa?"
While a run-on sentence like:
"My favorite horse is an appaloosa she is very sweet."
Would have to be:
"Is my favorite horse an appaloosa? Is she very sweet?"
This method is a bit round-about, but makes sense if you’re unsure about a particular sentence.

I hope this helps you, and good luck with your (hopefully run-on free) writing!

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Sat Jun 12, 2010 9:37 pm
Ranger Hawk says...

Lupis--great post! I love your technique of changing the potential run-on into a question. I have...issues...with run-ons, so it's a great tip that I know I'll be using. Thanks for posting! :D
There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people:
psychopaths and mystery writers.

I'm the kind that pays better.
~Rick Castle

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Sat May 19, 2012 2:01 am
chiaro0990 says...

I like your topic, however the examples are too simple. Can you give me an example that you usually see in other books?
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