5 Methods to Fix a Run-On Sentence
So, you have a run-on sentence, or a comma splice. This is a sentence where two independent clauses end up running together without any punctuation, wrongly combining two sentences that should be separate. This will look bad on your essays, and is a very common grammatical mistake. How can you fix them?
There are a number of different methods to fixing a run-on sentence or comma splice, and the one that works best for you will depend on which final sentence eventually sounds the best in the middle of your writing. You can use any of these methods on any sentence, but some will sound a little smoother in certain situations than others. Figuring out the best one to use is a combination of experience and trial-and-error.
Run-On Sentence Fix 1: Split into Two Sentences
Sometimes, all you need to do to fix a run-on sentence is to put a period, question mark or exclamation point between your two clauses. You’ve combined two sentences, so all you need to do is un-combine them.
Incorrect: Star Wars is very popular it’s made over a billion dollars world wide.
Correct: Star Wars is very popular. It’s made over a billion dollars world wide.
Incorrect: Mars is known as the red planet dust storms can envelop everything in a few days.
Correct: Mars is known as the red planet. Dust storms can envelop everything in a few days.
Don’t forget to capitalize your new second sentence!
Run-On Sentence Fix 2: The Semicolon
If your two ideas are closely related, or if you use a transitional word like “similarly” or “meanwhile”, then you can use a semicolon to split up the two ideas.
Incorrect: Cinderella wanted to go to the ball however, her evil step-mother refused to let her.
Correct: Cinderella wanted to go to the ball; however, her evil step-mother refused to let her.
Incorrect: Tony Stark is brilliant his Iron Man suit is an amazing design.
Correct: Tony Stark is brilliant; his Iron Man suit is an amazing design.
Run-On Sentence Fix 3: Conjunctions and Commas
You can’t just tie two ideas together with a comma; that’s called a comma splice. However, if you use a coordinating conjunction to combine the two, you can turn your run-on into a complex sentence.
Incorrect: Dinosaurs are frightening they are also very cool looking.
Correct: Dinosaurs are frightening, but they are also very cool looking.
Incorrect: Katniss Everdeen is a highly-skilled archer Peeta Mellark is an expert at camouflage.
Correct: Katniss Everdeen is a highly-skilled archer, and Peeta Mellark is an expert at camouflage.
Your coordinating conjunctions are and, but, or, nor, so, for and yet. Any will do, though obviously not all work in all sentences.
Run-On Sentence Fix 4: Add a Subordinating Conjunction
Run-on sentences and comma splices are bad because they take two independent clauses and jam them together. However, if you turn one of those clauses into a dependent clause, then you’re in the clear. You do this by adding a subordinating conjunction like although or because. This is my favorite method for clearing up comma splices because it often sounds less stilted than separating things into multiple sentences.
Incorrect: Pixar released a new movie, I went straight to the theater.
Correct: Because Pixar released a new movie, I went straight to the theater.
Incorrect: I couldn’t stop laughing, the Minions kept falling over.
Correct: I couldn’t stop laughing when the Minions kept falling over.
Remember to watch your commas–if you’re correcting a comma splice, you usually will replace the comma with one of your subordinating conjunctions.
Run-On Sentence Fix 5: Participles
The least common fix I use is changing one clause so that it begins with an “-ing”participle, and then attaching it back to the remaining independent clause.
Incorrect: The Rock ran into the ring, he jumped over Kane to attack the Big Show.
Correct: The Rock ran into the ring, jumping over Kane to attack the Big Show.
With these techniques, you can fix any comma splice or run-on sentence you come across.
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