Run-on Sentences (Comma Splices)


Need a review of parts of speech? It might be helpful for sentence construction.

In American English, two sentences (two independent clauses) must not be separated with a comma.

     Wrong: The toddler crawled to the railing, it pulled itself up to look at the world.

This is called a run-on or comma splice, because you have "spliced" two sentences with a comma.

Nor may two sentences be connected with no punctuation at all. This is called a fused sentence.

     Wrong: The dog drank from its bowl its tongue slapped as the water quivered.

The good news is: You can fix either error the same way!

Warning!: Do NOT turn a fused sentence into a run-on!

There are FOUR ways to fix a run-on or fused sentence:

1) Change the comma to a semi-colon. This is the easiest method.

     Wrong: The rabbit's fur was soft I loved to stroke it.
     Wrong: The rabbit's fur was soft, I loved to stroke it.
     Right: The rabbit's fur was soft; I loved to stroke it.

2) Change the comma to a period, and capitalize the next word. This splits the sentence into two sentences. Note: This can make your writing choppy if you overdo it.

     Wrong: The sun sank like a red coal into the sea now our vacation was truly over.
     Wrong: The sun sank like a red coal into the sea, now our vacation was truly over.
     Right: The sun sank like a red coal into the sea. Now our vacation was truly over.

3) Add a coordinating conjunction. (Remember FANBOYS? for and nor but or yet so)

     Wrong: Dolores called her stockbroker monthly she was always on top of the market.
     Wrong: Dolores called her stockbroker monthly, she was always on top of the market.
     Right: Dolores called her stockbroker monthly, so she was always on top of the market.

4) Add a subordinating conjunction. This will make one of the independent clauses a dependent clause.

     Wrong: Bob was a very moody man his co-workers quickly learned to avoid him.
     Wrong: Bob was a very moody man, his co-workers quickly learned to avoid him.
     Right: Because Bob was a very moody man, his co-workers quickly learned to avoid him.


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 Last Modified: 8/14/2009 11:08:48 AM