Run-on sentence

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A run-on is a sentence in which two or more independent clauses (i.e., complete sentences) are joined without appropriate punctuation or conjunctionand this is generally considered a stylistic error, though it is occasionally used in literature and may be used as a rhetorical device. An example of a run-on is a comma splice, in which two independent clauses are joined with a comma without an accompanying coordinating conjunction.[1][2] Some prescriptivists exclude comma splices from the definition of a run-on sentence, but this does not imply that they consider comma splices to be acceptable.[3]

The mere fact that a sentence is long does not make it a run-on sentence; sentences are run-ons only when they contain more than one independent clause. A run-on sentence can be as short as four words—for instance: I drive she walks. In this case there are two independent clauses: two subjects paired with two intransitive verbs. So as long as clauses are punctuated appropriately, a writer can assemble multiple independent clauses in a single sentence; in fact, a properly constructed sentence can be extended indefinitely.

Examples[edit]

  • A run-on sentence, without any punctuation or conjunction between "gas" and "we":
    • My car is out of gas we cannot reach town before dark.
  • A comma splice, which is considered a run-on sentence in English by some usage experts:
    • It is nearly half past five, we cannot reach town before dark.

Remedies[edit]

  • Use separate sentences. However, this may disconnect related independent clauses and cause some of the meaning to be lost:
    • It is nearly half past five. We cannot reach town before dark.
  • Use a semicolon. This maintains the connection between the clauses while ensuring a pause between the two ideas:
    • It is nearly half past five; we cannot reach town before dark.
  • Use a coordinating conjunction with a comma.
    • It is nearly half past five, so we cannot reach town before dark.

Literature[edit]

The short story ""Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman" is known for its use of improper grammar, one example of which is a paragraph about jelly beans composed almost entirely of run-on sentences.

James Joyce's novel Ulysses (1922), particularly the final chapter, "Penelope", comprises streams of consciousness that often take the form of long and unpunctuated run-on sentences.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Run-ons — Comma Splices — Fused Sentences". 2006-08-31. Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  2. ^ "Run-on Sentences, Comma Splices". Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  3. ^ Hairston, Maxine; Ruszkiewicz, John J.; Friend, Christy (1998). The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers (5th ed.). New York: Longman. p. 509.