How to Correct Run-On Sentences

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o
A run on is two or more complete sentences written
as one singular sentence.
o
A run-on has too much information for a single
sentence. It just keeps going, and going and
going….
o
If too many thoughts are given at once, people
readers can’t process the information.
FRAGMENTS
RUN – ONS

Fragments are incomplete
thoughts

Have two or more
complete thoughts

They are missing a subject
or a main verb.

Have too many subjects
and main verbs!

Example: A story with
adventure and excitement.

Example: She told a story
with adventure and
excitement I could not wait
to hear the end I listened
the whole way through.
.

Classic run-on

Comma splice
Has 2 or more complete thoughts with no
punctuation, except at the end.
Practice separating the thoughts:
“She told a story with adventure and excitement I could not wait
to hear the end I listened the whole way through.”
 To
‘splice’ means ‘to join together’
 “I
don’t know where my knitting
needles went, I thought they were in
my basket.”
 See
my awesome yarn demo
Even if a sentence has
commas, that doesn’t mean
it’s complete. It could still be
a run-on!
Ballet is a classical form of dance it has been
performed for centuries.
classic
Many folk dances exist, nearly every culture
has its own dances.
comma splice
Jazz, modern, and hip-hop all use similar
steps, but the dancers perform them
differently.
correct!
I’m out of dishwasher soap, I need to go to
the store today.
comma splice
Since I’m going out, I might as well pick up
some ice cream.
correct!
I won’t get a giant vat of it, I’ll just buy
a small dish to satisfy my craving.
comma splice

The Easy Three:
› periods, semicolons, and fanboys

Subordinators

“Trimming the Fat"
“Ballet is a classical form of dance it has been
performed for centuries.”
To correct it, separate the two complete thoughts
with a period.
“Ballet is a classical form of dance. It has been
performed for centuries.”
Semicolon (;) more than a comma, less than a
period
• Use it when two thoughts relate well to each
other
•
“I gnaw on old car tires; it strengthens my jaws for combat
against bears.” Related!
“I fought the bear and won; some people believe unicorns
evolved into narwhals.” NOT Related.
“I feel sorry for the Tyrannosaurus Rex with those
weenie arms, he could never scratch his nose!”
“I feel sorry for the Tyrannosaurus Rex; with those
weenie arms, he could never scratch his nose!”
Take note!
NO additional words after the semicolon
DO NOT capitalize the next word
Use semicolons sparingly – no more than
Once or twice per page.
Up next…fanboys!
For
And
Nor
But
Or
Yet
So
“Fanboys” is an acronym for a specific
list of words.
Also known as coordinating
conjunctions, these words provide a
smooth transition between thoughts.
Rather than a full stop (period) or a long
pause (semicolon), it is a short pause
plus a connecting word that makes
the flow of sentences less ‘choppy’.
The most common 3 from this list:
and, but, or
“Ballet is a classical form of dance it has been performed
for centuries.”
“Ballet is a classical form of dance, and it has been
performed for centuries.”
~~
“I like smooth peanut butter my friend prefers it crunchy.”
“I like smooth peanut butter, ___ my friend prefers it
crunchy.
~~
“I’m out of dishwasher soap, I need to go to the store today.”
I’m out of dishwasher soap, ____ I need to go to the store today.
“Robins usually arrive in the spring they start
to build nests at once.”
How do I fix this by using a period?
semicolon?
fanboys?
At this point, you may be thinking…
Yes, those work too! However, the rules are
different with those words, so they are in
a different category.
Subordinators

The Easy Three (period, semicolon,
fanboy) are the easiest solution to a runon sentence.

Interchangeable: All of them go in the
same place – between the two
complete thoughts.

Subordinators are a bit different.
Means ‘to make something secondary’.
See handout for a list of common subordinators
Before, the 2 complete thoughts (aka clauses) were equal,
and the easy three were the ‘hinge.’
Subordinators take one of the complete
thoughts and makes it incomplete.
Kyle could not eat his salad.
He was allergic to onions.
Two simple but complete sentences
Add a subordinator to one…
Since he was allergic to onions
it still has a subject and a verb,
but now it cannot be by itself.
It’s what we call a ‘subordinate clause.’
So now that we have made one of the sentences
incomplete, we attach it to the other still-complete
sentence (aka main clause).
Kyle could not eat his salad, since he was allergic to onions.
OR
Since he was allergic to onions Kyle could not eat his salad.
So now that we have made one of the sentences
incomplete, we attach it to the other still-complete
sentence (aka main clause)
Kyle could not eat his salad, since he was allergic to onions.
OR
Since he was allergic to onions Kyle could not eat his salad.
Notice!
-The subordinate clause can go either before or after the
main clause.
- The clause’s placement in the sentence affects if and
where you use commas.
When the subordinate clause comes first, use a
comma.
Even though the broccoli was covered in
cheddar cheese, Emily refused to eat it.
Unless Christine finishes her homework, she will
have to suffer Mr. B’s wrath in class tomorrow.
While Bailey slept on the sofa, the family dog
chewed on the coffee table leg.
When the subordinate clause comes second, you
generally do not need a comma.
Tanya did poorly on her exam Ø because Giselle
insisted on gossiping during their study session the
night before.
Jonathon spent his class time reading comic books Ø
since he already knew the material so well.
Diane decided to plant tomatoes in the back of the
yard Ø where they would get the most sunlight.
Question: How do I decide where to place the subordinate clause?
Answer: Whichever is more important!
Two sentences
A six-foot snake slithered across the sidewalk.
Rhonda gasped.
I’ll combine them with a subordinator at the beginning (comma or no comma?)
When a six-foot snake slithered across the sidewalk, Rhonda gasped.
This is grammatically correct. However, to me, a huge snake randomly
appearing is more important than Rhonda’s reaction, and readers tend
to remember whatever they read last. So I’m going to put Rhonda’s
gasping first.
Rhonda gasped when a six foot snake slithered across the sidewalk.
Note that since now the subordinate clause is last, I don’t need a comma.

Maria jumped out
Gino’s car, for she
could not tolerate his
awful music.

Maria jumped out of
Gino's car because
she could not tolerate
his awful music.
(comma removed,
main clause is 1st)

Sima’s “A” in Anatomy
might lead her to
medical school, or she
might become a
sculptor instead.

Although Sima’s A in
Anatomy might lead
her to medical school,
she might become a
sculptor instead.
(comma remains,
main clause is 2nd)

Subordinator + complete thought = a
subordinate clause

Attach the subordinate clause to *another*
complete thought, then punctuate it
properly, and you’ll get a very spiffy
sentence!

They make your writing varied,
sophisticated, and more complex.
Sometimes those previous methods won’t
be enough.
Sometimes our writing isn’t so easy to
correct.
Sometimes there are just too many words!
To make brownies, first get a bowl out of
the cupboard and a wooden spoon and
the brownie mix and preheat the oven;
after preheating the oven, empty the
mix into the bowl and crack two eggs
and stir carefully, not too fast.

In this case, there
already are fanboys and
subordinators.

Step one: break the runon into multiple
sentences

Step two: eliminate
repetitive phrases or
ideas.

Step three: Can you say
it in fewer words?
To make brownies, first get
a bowl out of the
cupboard and a
wooden spoon and the
brownie mix and
preheat the oven; after
preheating the oven,
empty the mix into the
bowl and crack two
eggs and stir carefully,
not too fast.
You may think your friends and family
might not look forward to your birthday
as much as you do, but at one time they
must have, because that was the day
that you were born and came into this
world, which is why they celebrate your
birthday with you; on that day they got a
wonderful gift -- you.

Look at the sentence length. If your writing is more
than three lines long, that’s probably too much.

Read your sentence out loud. Yes, out loud! If you
have to catch your breath before the end, it’s too
long.

If you ‘get lost’ as you’re reading (out loud!), so will
your audience.

If you’re not sure, play it safe and look for a way to
make things more concise.
Visit the Writing Lab!
Mon – Thurs 8am-8pm
Fri 8am-3:30pm
Sat –Sun 11am-4pm
Check out our website!
http://bellevuecollege.edu/asc/writing/
you can find this presentation there
Visit another workshop
Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference. 6th Ed. Boston:
Bedford, 2009. Print.
“How to Use a Semicolon.” The Oatmeal Comics. 2010.
Web. 15 Oct. 2010.
Simmons, Robin. L. Grammar Bytes!
Chompchompchom.com, 2010. Web, 18 Oct. 2010.
Writer’s Choice Grammar Workbook Grade 10. Glencoe:
McGraw-Hill 1996. Print.
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