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What Are Run-On Sentences?

Do you think run-on sentences are really long sentences? It's not that simple.

 

By
Mignon Fogarty
Letters fly endlessly out of a book as though they are part of a run-on sentence.

Today, we turn to run-on sentences.

I bet a lot of you think that run-on sentences are just really long sentences that go on and on like the Energizer bunny. But actually, run-on sentences are sentences that lack punctuation; they can be long, but they can also be short.

What Is a Run-On Sentence?

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Here's an example of a short run-on sentence: “I'm a woman I am a truck driver.” (I was in a writing group a few years ago with an interesting woman who was writing a book about her experience as a female truck driver.) The reason “I am a woman I am a truck driver” is a run-on sentence is that it's written without any internal punctuation. I've fused together two complete sentences, which is why run-on sentences are also called fused sentences.

There are a bunch of ways to fix run-on sentences; the toolbox is filled with the same basic fixes you can use to repair comma splicesperiodssemicolons, and commas with coordinating conjunctions.

Next: How to Fix Run-On Sentences

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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