Home > Uncategorized > Running On About Run-Ons

Running On About Run-Ons

running guyBefore: I didn’t plan to write about run-on sentences, a much-hyped book by a respected author shocked me into it, run-on sentences, the kind formed by comma splices, litter the pages, it ain’t pretty.

After: I didn’t plan to write about run-on sentences[;] a much-hyped book by a respected author shocked me into it[.] Run-on sentences, the kind formed by comma splices, litter the pages[—]it ain’t pretty.


Before:  A comma splice is a comma between independent clauses, the comma joins (splices) the clauses together into a run-on sentence, comma splices work well for short independent clauses, like I came, I saw, I hopped the bus home, otherwise, comma splices make reading a chore.

After: A comma splice is a comma between independent clauses[.] The comma joins (splices) the clauses together into a run-on sentence[.] Comma splices work well for short independent clauses, like I came, I saw, I hopped the bus home[;] otherwise, comma splices make reading a chore.

Before: Some run-on perpetrators dispense with the comma splice altogether they fuse independent clauses together without a wisp of punctuation to give readers a clue one clause merges into the next buffered by nothing but a space some writers use this kind of run-on sentence (a fused sentence) to advantage if you know what you’re doing you can too but unless you’re after a breathless quality or a stream-of-consciousness effect don’t fuse your sentences punctuate them.

After: Some run-on perpetrators dispense with the comma splice altogether[.] They fuse independent clauses together without a wisp of punctuation to give readers a clue[;] one clause merges into the next[,] buffered by nothing but a space[.] Some writers use this kind of run-on sentence (a fused sentence) to advantage[.] If you know what you’re doing[,] you can too[.] But unless you’re after a breathless quality or a stream-of-consciousness effect[,] don’t fuse your sentences[.] Punctuate them.

Before: In short, avoid joining independent clauses with either commas or spaces, this is an independent clause this is too each independent clause has a subject and a verb and forms a complete thought.

After: In short, avoid joining independent clauses with either commas or spaces[.] This is an independent clause[.] This is too[.] Each independent clause has a subject and a verb and forms a complete thought.

Before: Luckily, you can fix a run-on sentence, whether it’s spliced or fused, in lots of ways. Sure, you can replace splicing commas and fusing spaces with stronger separators, like periods, semi-colons, colons, or dashes you don’t have to limit yourself to punctuation changes. Get a little wild! Slip in an occasional coordinating conjunction (like but or and) coupled with a comma you’ll win readers’ hearts every time.

After: Luckily, you can fix a run-on sentence, whether it’s spliced or fused, in lots of ways. Sure, you can replace splicing commas and fusing spaces with stronger separators, like periods, semi-colons, colons, or dashes[, but] you don’t have to limit yourself to punctuation changes. Get a little wild! Slip in an occasional coordinating conjunction (like but or and) coupled with a comma [, and] you’ll win readers’ hearts every time.

Before: You can also fix run-on sentences by subordinating one of the clauses. In other words, insert a subordinating conjunction (like because) to expose a logical relationship. Of course, you can’t use this technique to fix every run-on sentence not all clauses hang together as logically as the two you just read.

After: You can also fix run-on sentences by subordinating one of the clauses. In other words, insert a subordinating conjunction (like because) to expose a logical relationship. Of course, you can’t use this technique to fix every run-on sentence [because] not all clauses hang together as logically as the two you just read.

Before: You might wonder how to determine the best fix for a run-on sentence consider two things: the way the parts of the sentence relate to each other and the “tone and rhythm” you want to achieve. (1)

After: You might wonder how to determine the best fix for a run-on sentence[.] Consider two things: the way the parts of the sentence relate to each other and the “tone and rhythm” you want to achieve.

Before: If you struggle with run-on sentences or with punctuation in general, I recommend Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves, the author herself says, “You know those self-help books that give you permission to love yourself? This one gives you permission to love punctuation.”

After: Even if you excel at punctuation, drop everything and go get Lynne Truss’s fancy-tickling Eats, Shoots & Leaves, [about which] the author herself says, “You know those self-help books that give you permission to love yourself? This one gives you permission to love punctuation.” (2)

I could run on and on about punctuation a person could find worse things to love.

—-

(1) Mignon Fogarty,“What Are Run-On Sentences?Grammar Girl blog, August 26, 2010, http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/run-on-sentences.aspx.

(2) Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, illustr. Pat Byrnes (New York: Gotham Books / Penguin, 2008 based on the 2003 British edition), 40.

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  1. Laurie
    January 17, 2012 at 6:09 am

    I will be forwarding your post to my daughter. We just (Oh, I shouldn’t use that word either ;)) had a conversation about writing skills, of which we both feel we don’t possess. I fill lots of sentences with comma mainly for pause effect. It hadn’t occur to me to use semi-colons instead. I thought semi-colons were for “lists”. After all that, i think I do love punctuation! (it’s a rule thing)

  2. January 17, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Laurie, You and Christina will both love “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”!

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