Trying to learn how to fix a run on sentence? Read our guide with nine helpful tips to upgrade your writing!
English writing requires good grammar, and even the best writers will struggle from time to time with grammar mistakes. If you are going to enter the world of bloggers or copywriters, you must know how to write without errors.
Thankfully, you can utilize many free grammar checker programs, but you also need to know how to check grammar for yourself. The first step in writing without grammar errors is knowing how to analyze a sentence. If you can get the individual sentences right, you can create paragraphs and complete pieces that are accurate.
While you can use the best run-on sentence checker to help, you should be able to tackle some of this work independently. This guide provides several things you can look at to determine if your sentences are error-free.
- What Is a Run-On Sentence?
- Types of Run-On Sentences
- 1. When the writer joins two independent clauses using a conjunction incorrectly.
- 2. When the writer joins two independent clauses by using a comma incorrectly.
- 3. When the writer joins two or more incomplete sentences together.
- 4. When the writer uses multiple conjunctions to join multiple independent clauses together.
- Examples of Run-On Sentences
- How To Avoid Run-On Sentences
- 1. Include End Punctuation Marks
- 2. Use Commas, Punctuation Marks, and Conjunctions
- 3. Add a Semi-colon
- 4. Ditch Sentence Fragments
- 5. Nail Sentence Length
- What Is a Sentence Fragment?
What Is a Run-On Sentence?
A run-on sentence is when two or more independent sentences are incorrectly presented as a single sentence. This can distract readers when sentences should be split into separate sentences instead.
Types of Run-On Sentences
There are four main types of run-on sentences to avoid in your writing. These include:
1. When the writer joins two independent clauses using a conjunction incorrectly.
There are ways to connect sentences with conjunctions such as “and,” “but,” or “or” to create a compound sentence. However, if the writer doesn’t use conjunction correctly, the sentences become fused and often don’t make sense. You might also be interested in learning how to check similarity between two texts.
2. When the writer joins two independent clauses by using a comma incorrectly.
When joining two complete sentences with a comma, without any more words, it creates a comma splice. This can also happen when there are transitional words like “to” and “like” between two clauses. Instead of combining sentences, it creates a comma splice. Both of these forms incorrectly formed sentences.
3. When the writer joins two or more incomplete sentences together.
When two or more incomplete sentences are joined, sentence fragments and incomplete sentences are formed. Instead of this, the sentences should be split into separate independent clauses. This can appear as an incomplete thought or might be missing subjects or verbs. You might also find our guide on how to fix sentence fragments useful.
4. When the writer uses multiple conjunctions to join multiple independent clauses together.
When multiple conjunctions are used to join independent clauses together, it’s called a polysyndeton. This creates a long and difficult sentence to read. Sometimes writers use polysyndetons as a stylistic choice in their writing, most commonly used to slow down the reader’s pace. These types of run-on sentences can be identified by looking for sentences with multiple thoughts and ideas.
Examples of Run-On Sentences
To help understand run-on sentences and improve your grasp of the English language, check out these simple sentences that all include an example of a run-on.
Example 1: I need to go to the supermarket I need to buy bread.
This example is missing the use of a conjunction. The correct and complete sentence should be: I need to go to the supermarket and buy bread.
Example 2: I need to go to the supermarket, then I need to buy bread.
This example uses a comma to join independent clauses together. This creates a comma splice which is a type of run-on sentence.
Example 3: I need to go to the supermarket I need to go to buy bread
This example has squashed two incomplete sentences together. Neither sentence is a complete thought or idea which creates a sentence that doesn’t make sense.
Example 4: I need to go to the supermarket and I need to go to buy bread and I need to go tomorrow and I need to go to the pharmacy after.
This example uses multiple conjunctions to join many different independent clauses together. This creates a confusing sentence that is hard to read.
Solution: I need to go to the supermarket tomorrow to buy bread. Then, I need to go to the pharmacy.
The solution is to create one cohesive sentence that is joined with a conjunction. Then, create a separate sentence for new ideas. Creating a flowing and cohesive sentence that’s easy to understand is essential when writing essays, articles, copy, and more!
How To Avoid Run-On Sentences
There are effective ways to correct run-on sentences and avoid them altogether in your writing. In the following few sections, we’ll show you how to avoid run-on sentences to make your writing flow.
1. Include End Punctuation Marks
Make sure to split separate ideas into different sentences. For example, “I walked up the hill I went to the shop” does not include correct punctuation. To correct this, add a period at the end of the first phrase – “I walked up the hill. I went to the shop.”
2. Use Commas, Punctuation Marks, and Conjunctions
Adding a comma doesn’t automatically fix run-on sentences. You need to ensure that you are adding a comma and the appropriate conjunction to join clauses correctly. For example, “I walked up the hill, I went to the shop” doesn’t make sense.
However, by adding the correct conjunction, we can fix this “I walked up the will, and I went to the shop.” Now, we have created a complete sentence that makes sense and is easy for readers to understand.
3. Add a Semi-colon
Using a semi-colon is not a replacement for a period. However, it can be a great way to combine two clauses and avoid run-on sentences. Semi-colons should only be used for two clauses of equal weight and importance. For example, “I walked up the hill; I went to the shop” is a perfect way to join two clauses together.
4. Ditch Sentence Fragments
A sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence that is used instead of a complete and cohesive sentence. Sentence fragments are common in everyday conversation, slang, and dialogue. However, it’s best to avoid sentence fragments in formal writing, such as essays, business reports, or professional emails. You might also be interested in our explainer on how to apply deliberate practice.
5. Nail Sentence Length
An essential part of writing is getting the sentence length right. Typically, sentences should be between 15-20 words. However, quick sentences are great for quickly relaying information which can be perfect for blog posts or professional documents. If you’re wondering what you need to know about the average sentence length, check out our guide!
What Is a Sentence Fragment?
Sentence fragments are incomplete sentences missing keywords or structures that make sentences complete. Ensuring that sentences include context, subjects, and verbs is the best way to keep writing professional and avoid sentence fragments. Using a grammar assistant like Grammarly is a great way to spot sentence fragments in your writing. Here are some examples to help you understand sentence fragments:
Fragment sentence: “Because there was a thunderstorm.”
Complete sentence: “We canceled the dinner because there was a thunderstorm.”
Fragment sentence: “A time of excitement.”
Complete sentence: “That was a time of excitement.”
Fragment sentence: “Walked obediently.”
Complete sentence: “The dog walked obediently.”
There are other kinds of sentence fragments, such as missing subjects and missing verbs.