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How to Fix Run-On Sentences

Learning how to fix run-on sentences can be challenging for writers of all levels. From beginning writers who don’t have the conceptual grasp of a complete thought to more experience writers who get caught up in the mire of dependent clauses and phrases, here are a few workable strategies to revise these errors in sentence structure.

Definition: A sentence run-on consists of  two or more independent clauses connected together as if they were one sentence without the benefit of a conjunction or proper punctuation. An independent clause means that there is a subject and a connecting verb that express a complete thought. But first, let’s begin with what constitutes a complete sentence.

A Complete Sentence

  1. tells a complete thought.
  2. has both a subject and a predicate.
  3. has the voice drop down at the end of a statement and the voice go up at the end of a question (in English).

Run-On Examples and Their Fixes

1. Separate the run-on into two or more sentences.

Run-On Example:

Luis told his brother he told his sister, too.

The Fix-Luis told his brother. He told his sister, too.

2. Add a semi-colon between the clauses.

Run-On Example:

Mary let him have it, she knew what she was doing.

The Fix-Mary let him have it; she knew what she was doing.

3. Add a comma, then a conjunction after the first independent clause.

Run-On Example:

I like her, she doesn’t like me.

The Fix-I like her, but she doesn’t like me.

4. Add a subordinating conjunction to one of the clauses.

Run-On Example:

Max was injured, he was still the best.

The Fix-Even though Max was injured, he was still the best.

5. Change the second clause to a phrase starting with an __ing word.

Run-On Example:

They went to school, they looked for him.

The Fix-They went to school, looking for him.

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