Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.
What Is a Run-On Sentence?
Let's see how much of this paragraph we can read out loud without taking a break or pausing to breathe:
- Today was the best day in the whole world my family began our beach vacation it took a long time to get to the beach my sister and I were thrilled to see the beautiful blue skies and giant ocean waves.
Did you notice where you should be pausing? Did you need to stop and take a breath? It may have been difficult, because the statement is one huge run-on sentence and needs fixing. Run-on sentences are sentences that include more than one complete thought without the use of a punctuation mark to separate those complete thoughts.
Run-On vs. Complete Sentences
When people ramble on, it's hard to follow what they're saying. The same thing can happen when people write. That's why you need to write in complete sentences.
To form a complete sentence, you need a subject and predicate along with an end punctuation mark. A subject of a sentence describes who or what you're talking about. The predicate tells what the subject is like or what it's doing. Finally, a punctuation mark like a period, question mark, or exclamation point goes at the end. Let's look at a side-by-side comparison of a complete and run-on sentence.
The run-on sentence is:
- Today was the best day in the whole world my family began our beach vacation.
Here, there are two subjects, two predicates, and one period.
On the other hand, here are complete sentences:
- Today was the best day in the whole world. My family began our beach vacation.
Here, each sentence has one subject, predicate, and end mark.
Fixing Run-On Sentences
When you find a run-on sentence, you can fix it one of two ways. You can either turn the run-on into two or more complete sentences, or you can combine the complete thoughts.
To separate sentences, use proper end marks to turn a run-on into two or more complete sentences.
For example, the run-on:
- It took a long time to get to the beach my sister and I were thrilled to see the blue skies and giant waves
Can be broken up into:
- It took a long time to get to the beach. My sister and I were thrilled to see the blue skies and giant waves.
It's also possible to combine sentences by using a comma and/or a conjunction like ''and,'' ''or,'' or ''but'' between the two complete thoughts.
The run-on sentence:
- We loved looking at the scenery we loved watching the dolphins surface
Can be changed to:
- We loved looking at the scenery and watching the dolphins surface.
Let's practice fixing a few run-ons. Break the sentences up by looking for complete thoughts. Remember, if you have a subject and a predicate, you can make a sentence by placing a punctuation mark at the end.
Let's fix the following run-ons:
- We played in the sand all the time it was so much fun!
- My sister built an enormous sand castle I crushed it with my foot Dad yelled at me.
The run-ons could be fixed to say:
- We played in the sand all the time. It was so much fun!
- My sister built an enormous sand castle. I crushed it with my foot. Dad yelled at me.
To join two complete thoughts in a sentence, you place a comma and a conjunction between the two complete thoughts.
Common conjunctions include:
- And: Use ''and'' when the ideas are similar.
- But: Use ''but'' when the ideas are different.
- Or: Use ''or'' when you have a choice between two things.
Try fixing the following run-ons:
- The waves were huge they crashed into the shore.
- The dolphins jumped out of the water they never came very close to the swimmers.
By combining the sentences, we come up with:
- The waves were huge, and they crashed into the shore.
- The dolphins jumped out of the water, but they never came very close to the swimmers.
Adding correct punctuation to your writing can help readers know when to pause. It also helps readers notice the beginning and end of each sentence.
Complete sentences are formed with a subject, which describes who or what you're talking about, and a predicate, which tells what the subject is like or what it's doing. When you find a run-on sentence, a sentence that includes more than one complete though without the use of a punctuation mark to separate those complete thoughts, it needs to be fixed for clarity. You can fix run-on sentences by separating the complete thoughts into their own sentences, or you can combine the complete thoughts with a comma and a conjunction.
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