Fixing Run-On Sentences

Writing isn’t just about understanding vocabulary and grammar; it’s also about things like structure, and even punctuation!

Punctuation can change the meaning of your sentence if placed incorrectly or omitted. And when used in the appropriate places, punctuation makes your writing smoother and more professional.

Let’s take a look at a common error that’s easy to fix: run-on sentences.

Avoiding and fixing run-on sentences
Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on

How do I recognize a run-on sentence?

A run-on sentence contains at least two or more complete sentences (at least subject + verb) that aren’t separated with proper punctuation.

Can you find the spot in the example below where one sentence ends and the next begins?

Here is a tip: The second sentence often begins with a pronoun or words such as “however” or “for example.”

Example: The hamster laid down on her bed, she went to sleep.

In this sentence there are two complete sentences, but they are separated by a comma, which isn’t strong enough to separate two complete sentences. (This misuse of a comma is called a comma splice and it makes the sentence a run-on.)

Sentence # 1: The hamster laid down on her bed.
Sentence # 2: She went to sleep.

How can I fix my run-on sentences?

1. Place a) a period or b) a semicolon in between the two sentences.

Example: The hamster laid down on her bed.  She went to sleep.
Example: The hamster laid down on her bed; she went to sleep.

2. Place a comma and a coordinating conjunction [FANBOYS – for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so] between the two complete sentences.

Example: The hamster laid down on her bed, and she went to sleep.

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