Beware the run-on sentence

Any native English speaker who writes a run-on sentence is either (1) someone who was raised by wolves, (2) a tadpole in disguise, (3) a Scientologist, (4) a communist, or (5) an exiled member of an alien species. So beware. If you are any of these things, you don’t want your family to know about it.

A run-on sentence, also known as a fused sentence or a run-together sentence, contains two or more independent clauses not connected by the correct punctuation or conjunction. (An independent clause has a subject and a verb, expresses a complete thought, and can stand alone.) Example of a run-on sentence:

Kelly likes to cook she makes something different every day.

This sentence contains two independent clauses. It expresses two ideas:

1. Kelly likes to cook

2. she makes something different every day

Writers can fix a run-on sentence in three ways:

• Put a period between the two independent clauses: Kelly likes to cook. She makes something different every day.

• Put a semicolon between the two independent clauses: Kelly likes to cook; she makes something different every day.

• Put a conjunction between the two independent clauses: Kelly likes to cook, and she makes something different every day.

Any editor who finds more than ten run-on sentences in a manuscript will either self-implode or quit the profession and become an insurance agent. So please, give me a break. I don’t want either of those horrible things to happen to me.

Paul Thayer

Thayer Literary Services

www.paulthayerbookeditor.com