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.
Thayer Literary Services
Paul Thayer is a full-time professional book editor with more than 35 years of experience. During that time he worked in the trenches of the real world of writers, editors, and publishers. He uses his extensive knowledge to help writers who still have a lot to learn, offering them critiques and line editing of their work.
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