Avoiding Run-on Sentences and Comma Splices


Run-On Sentences:

The Rule:

A run-on sentence occurs when the writer connects two independent clauses without using a coordinating conjunction (connecting word) or proper punctuation.

The Specifics:

  • Independent clauses are clauses that could be sentences on their own; they contain a subject and a verb.
  • Coordinating conjunctions can be remembered by the acronym “fanboys” (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
  • Proper punctuation with independent clauses means dividing the two clauses using a semicolon, period, comma with a coordinating conjunction, or [very rarely] colon.

Examples:

Incorrect: Writing Center tutors don’t criticize you they help you write better papers.
Correct: Writing Center tutors don’t criticize you; they help you write better papers.
Correct: Writing Center tutors don’t criticize you. They help you write better papers.
Correct: Writing Center tutors don’t criticize you, but they help you write better papers.
Correct: Writing Center tutors help you write better papers: this is a fact.


Comma Splices:

The Rule:

A comma splice occurs when the writer connects two independent clauses with a comma but without using a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).

Examples:

Incorrect: He enjoys exploring ancient ruins, he often runs into trouble during his adventures.
Correct: He enjoys exploring ancient ruins, but he often runs into trouble during his adventures.
Incorrect: Jim spends his time playing video games, Bill uses his time to study.
Correct: Jim spends his time playing video games. Bill uses his time to study.
Incorrect: The car down the street is for sale, Sarah is going to test drive it tomorrow.
Correct: The car down the street is for sale; Sarah is going to test drive it tomorrow.


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