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Eliminate the Most Common Syntax Error: Run-On Sentences

Updated: Apr 12

A common grammar mistake that many writers make is the usage of comma splices and other means to create run-on sentences. a

What is a run-on sentence?

A run-on sentence occurs when two complete, independent sentences are joined together through an incorrect manner. These are also sometimes called "fused sentences". Additionally, the length of a sentence does not determine if a sentence is a run-on or not. Very short, brief sentences could actually suffer the same error.

Below, let's review some of the most common types of run-ons!

Type #1: The Fuse

In this type of run-on, two independent sentences are fused into one without any sort of punctuation. It's usually pretty easy to recognize this issue by simply reading the sentence out loud. There's no natural break indicated by punctuation where you'd expect there to be.

For example:

I usually cook dinner I like making pasta.

It's clear that some form of punctuation should fall between "dinner" and "I".

Type #2: The Fuse w/ Conjunction

A coordinating conjunction (which you can remember by the easy acronym FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) is a word that connects two sentences. While it can be used to make a correctly punctuated sentence, many times, it is used incorrectly. Thus, this forms a run-on sentence.

For example:

I usually cook dinner and I like making pasta.

This kind of sentence is a bit more difficult to recognize as a run-on sentence, since when reading it out loud, it flows better than the first type above. However, it should be noted that whenever you use a coordinating conjunction to combine two complete sentences, you should always place a comma before it. Only then will it be punctuated in a grammatically correct manner. (An example will be given below!)

Type #3: The Comma Splice

Out of all the types of run-on sentences, comma splices are perhaps the most common. The name is rather self-explanatory: a comma splices between two complete sentences, combining them into one.

For example: