JS Tip 148: From the Writing Workshops: Fixing the Dreaded Run-on Sentence

A run-on sentence is a sentence with two complete thoughts not connected with appropriate punctuation or connecting words. For example—

         The pump failed the room flooded.

Two complete thoughts:

{C}1.             The pump failed.

{C}2.             The room flooded.

With no appropriate punctuation or connecting words.

You can fix the problem one of three ways:

Add a period and a capital letter to make it two complete sentences:

         The pump failed. The room flooded.

That was easy.

Add a comma and a connecting word:

         The pump failed, and the room flooded.

We use a comma and “and” as a connecting word. We could have used other connecting words: and, or, for, nor, but, yet, and so are the most common. (English teachers call these the seven coordinating conjunctions. Wow.)

         The pump failed, so the room flooded.

Add a semi-colon:

The pump failed; the room flooded.

Semi-colons are the world’s underappreciated punctuation mark. They’re strong enough to hold two complete thoughts together. They give a sense of immediacy to the statement. Bam. Bam.

Next week: Last week we talked about The Fog Index. Next week we’ll explain it.

You have questions? Let us know. We love this stuff.