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Run on Sentence

Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

Run-on sentences are two or more independent clauses that are not joined appropriately. To fix a run-on sentence, we can use either join them with a semi-colon, a comma plus a FANBOY coordinating conjunction or separate them with a period.

Now we're talking about Run-on sentences. I know Run-on sentences can be scary if you've ever gotten a paper back and you've got the big red letters RO, but the good news is they're pretty easy to fix.

The definition of a Run-on sentence is two or more independent clauses that are joined inappropriately. Now that could mean a variety of things. But the good thing to know, is that the three easy fixes are right here. When you find a Run-on sentence, when you've got those 2 or more independent clauses, you can instead join them with a semi-colon or you can use a comma and a FANBOY. And the FANBOY are those coordinating conjunctions; for, and, nor, but, or, or so. Or you can identify your clauses and split them all together with a period.

You've got some options there but they're pretty simple options. The one tip I have though, is to make sure when you're looking at identifying run-on sentences, make sure to label your clauses to make sure that you actually have one. There can be some sentences out there that look like run-ons, but aren't actually run-ons.

Let's look at this first example. We have 'I was cooking dinner and watching T.V'. That looks like we've got the end there maybe we've got an improper joining, but we've got to double check and make sure we've got our clauses. So we have, subject one is I, and what was I doing? I was cooking dinner. So there's my verb. And I know 'and' is a conjunction that's joining something, so let's look over here. Well here, I have 'watching T.V' which is another verb. I don't have a subject out here, so this actually isn't a run-on sentence. So this is what I mean when I say make sure to label your clauses before you go in and change things.

If you were to get rid of this 'and' and put a semicolon there, it would be grammatically incorrect because this side could stand on its own but this side couldn't.

Let's take a look at a different example. I was cooking dinner and then I watched T.V. Let's look for subjects. So we've got I there and again our verb is what's cooking. If we look after our conjunction we've got another subject, 'I' and then another verb, 'watch'. This is a run-on sentence because we know the rules are, that if you've got 2 independent clauses they've got either be joined with a comma and a FANBOY, a semicolon or split up with a period.

If we take a look at how to fix this run-on, it's pretty simple. You've got three different options. The first one would be throw a period in here, capitalize your 'a' and you've got two sentences; I was cooking dinner, period and then I watched T.V. Remember it is okay to start sentences with those coordinating conjunctions.

If you wanted to keep it all together maybe for flow, or you've got some other choppy sentences in there, instead of your period you could just add a comma, because we know that a comma and a FANBOY which and is one of, can work to join two independent clauses.

The last option, if you want to show some distinction you want to maybe make it less wordy get rid of your conjunction all together, we can turn this comma into a semicolon; I was cooking dinner; then I watched T.V. Just remember if you go this semicolon are out, these two sentences or these two clauses need to be very closely related. You couldn't say I was cooking dinner, semicolon, I want to got out for Tacos. It really doesn't have that close of a relationship.

Those are three easy ways to fix those big scary red RO's in your sentences and I hope that helps you.