Running off with Run-on’s

Everyone has heard the term run-on sentence. Some people believe they are sentences that just go on and on and are way too long. That’s not always the case. I remember a friend saying if you pause or take a breath when reading as sentence its a run on sentence. What she meant was run-away sentence.

A run on sentence is a single sentence containing two or more independent clauses joined without conjunction (ie, and, yet or so… etc) or without proper punctuation. Yes they can go on and on and on as well.

For example:  Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor Scott laughed at her misery.

A run on sentence can be as short as four words or even less.
For example:

Amber cried Scott laughed.

There are some ways to correct a run-on sentence.

The semi colon or dash:

 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor; Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor—Scott laughed at her misery.

Put a coordinating conjunction with a comma in.

 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor, and Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor, while Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor, as Scott laughed at her misery.

The above three can also be done without the comma as well.

 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor and Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor while Scott laughed at her misery.
 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor as Scott laughed at her misery.

Using a comma without the conjunction might be considered a “comma splice” to some and to others it would be thought of as fine.

Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor, Scott laughed at her misery.

Write the two clauses as separate sentences

 Amber cried at the broken mug on the floor. Scott laughed at her misery.

Finally you can make one clause independent of the other.

Amber cried because of the broken mug on the floor making Scott laugh at her misery.
Scott laughed at Amber’s misery over the broken mug on the floor.

Personally I would aim for that last one on the list. It’s not clunky, chunky or broken up.  Amber’s been having some bad luck lately. Run-on sentences are best found when reading out loud or when someone else reads your work or proofs it. Sometimes as the writer I find I skip over them because I wrote them in the first place.

My advice about run-on sentences.
Find them fix them.  Find them, and fix them. Find them then fix them. Find them—fix them. Find them; fix them. Fixing them is easy to do when you find them.

-Sheryl

The ‘been there, done that’ people

Tulips in July

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 Luck

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18 thoughts on “Running off with Run-on’s

  1. I love your advice. That cracked me up. I’m always having to find them and fix them, especially with conjunctions. I read (Grammar Book) that if both independent clauses are short, no comma is needed before the conjunction: Bobby ate cookies and Mary ate cake. But, I never found the rule about how long is short.

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