Run-on sentence definition: A run-on sentence exists when two or more independent clauses are not joined with the proper conjunction or punctuation.
What is a Run-on Sentence?
A run-on sentence is poor grammar. It exists when two independent clauses (also called main clauses) are incorrectly joined.
More than one independent clause cannot exist in a sentence unless they are properly combined. To properly combine clauses, correct conjunctions or punctuation must be added to the sentence.
Despite their name, run-on sentences have nothing to do with length. Run-on sentences can be quite short, in fact. The only thing that determines a run-on sentence is when more than one independent clause exists without the proper tools to combine them.
Run-on Sentence Examples:
- I have to go to the store I need to buy milk.
- Here, there are two independent clauses with no punctuation. This is an example of a fused sentence.
- Clause One: I have to go to the store.
- Clause Two: I need to buy milk.
- There is no conjunction or punctuation between these clauses; this makes it a run-on sentence.
- We are going to the game, then we are going to dinner.
- Here, there are two independent clauses joined by a comma. This is an example of a comma splice.
- Clause One: We are going to the game.
- Clause Two: Then we are going to the game.
- Just like the previous example, there is no conjunction or punctuation between these clauses; this makes it a run-on sentence.
What is a Complete Sentence?
A complete sentence exists when an independent clause is created. An independent clause includes a subject and a verb or verb predicate.
- I walked.
- I waked fast.
- I walked to school.
- Today, I walked to school.
A sentence fragment and a run-on sentence are not the same. A sentence fragment does not include one or more of the necessary elements to make a full sentence, whereas a run-on sentence has too many elements in one sentence.
- walked to school today (no subject)
- she at the store (no verb)
Fixing Run-on Sentences
Since run-on sentences are grammatically incorrect, they need to be corrected. In the next few paragraphs, I will go over the various ways you can correct a run-on sentence.
Add End Punctuation:
Depending on the types of clauses that are incorrectly joined in run-on sentences, end punctuation could serve to separate the two clauses. Typically, a period will work.
- Run-on: I woke up I ate breakfast.
- Correction: I woke up. I ate breakfast.
Now, the two clauses function as two separate sentences.
Use a Comma and Conjunction:
Adding a comma alone does not fix a run-on sentence. In fact, it creates what is known as a comma splice. But, adding a comma and the appropriate conjunction can join the clauses appropriately.
- Run-on: I woke up I ate breakfast.
- Correction: I woke up, and I ate breakfast.
Not every conjunction will work for every run-on sentence. The writer needs to choose the best conjunction to communicate his meaning.
Use a Semi-Colon:
Adding a semicolon between the two clauses can join two clauses in a run-on sentence.
- Run-on: I woke up I ate breakfast. (Run-on)
- Correction: I woke up; I ate breakfast.
Note that semicolons should not be used instead of periods. Semi-colons should only be used when the two clauses are of equal weight, length, and importance.
Finding a Run-on, How to Avoid Run-on Sentences
Run-on sentences occur frequently among novice writers. This is usually because the writer tries to create a detailed sentence and accidentally creates a run-on sentence.
Finding run-on sentences can be tricky. In order to find them, a writer should identify his sentences with two independent clauses (subjects and verbs).
Once identified, the writer should decide if those sentences are properly joined. That is, do they have a comma and a conjunction? Does a semicolon or period need to be added?
Asking these questions while thoroughly editing will help writers correct run-on sentences.
Summary: What are Run-on Sentences?
Define run-on sentence: the definition of a run-on sentence is two or more independent clauses improperly joined together.
In summary, a run-on sentence:
- is improper grammar
- includes two independent clauses incorrectly joined
- needs to be fixed
- can be fixed several ways