Run On Sentences

2 Techniques to Correct Run-On Sentences

Hello everyone! I’m Mr Ng Guo Liang, an English Language Curriculum Specialist and Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty.

In a previous post of mine I wrote about a common sentence structure error students often make: sentence fragments, in this post I will address yet another common sentence structure error students often make.

When you read the sentence above, did you find it difficult to read for some reason? If you did, it means that you have a good sense of how and when sentences are supposed to be started, broken up, and stopped. The sentence above is difficult to follow and read because of a very simple reason — it has simply gone on for too long. Sentences that have gone on for too long are what we call run-on sentences. This is something we teachers often come across in our students’ writing, and it gives us a big headache!

Written correctly, the example above should be written as such:

2 Techniques to Correct Run-On Sentences

The exact same words were used, and yet this time, there doesn’t seem to be much difficulty for one to read it. Are you able to explain why this is so? If you can, fantastic! If you’re unsure about it, let’s look at it together! To make it easier for you, I’ll highlight some of the changes that were made in green:

2 Techniques to Correct Run-On Sentences

If you notice, only three little changes (or additions) were made, and yet these little changes made all the difference! So what was done? First, punctuation marks (commas) were added to include pauses and to break up a sentence; and second, the initial long sentence was broken up into two separate sentences with a full stop. In essence, the lack of and wrong use of punctuation marks were the reasons why that initial run-on sentence was so difficult to read.

Like the example given above, most often, run-on sentences occur because of the following two reasons:

  1. The lack of punctuation
  2. The use of commas to separate the sentences instead of using other punctuation marks or connectors.

How to Correct Run-On Sentences

There are generally two techniques we can use to correct run-on sentences:

1. Use Sentence-Ending Punctuation Marks to Separate Sentences

When a sentence clearly has two or more parts which have separate ideas or have different meanings from each other, use punctuation marks which serve to end sentences (i.e. full stops, exclamation marks and question marks) to separate them. These examples below illustrate what I mean:

2 Techniques to Correct Run-On Sentences

If you study the column with the correct sentences, you will realise that when separated with the sentence-ending punctuation marks (i.e. full stop/ exclamation mark/question mark), each sentence can exist alone from the others and is a complete unit of meaning.

2. Using commas and connectors to join two or more clauses (which could be separate sentences on their own)

2 Techniques to Correct Run-On Sentences

Notice that the parts separated using the connectors and commas can actually exist as sentences themselves (if full stops were used instead). However, if they were not included, then they would be run-on sentences like the ones in the left hand column.

In summary, run-on sentences most typically occur because of the following two reasons:

  1. The lack of punctuation
  2. The use of commas to separate the sentences instead of using other punctuation marks or connectors.

And to correct them, we can:

  1. Use sentence-ending punctuation marks to separate sentences
  2. Use commas and connectors to join two or more clauses (which could be separate sentences on their own)

I hope you now know and better understand what run-on sentences are, why they occur, and how you can prevent them. Do put these things you’ve learnt today to good use when checking your writing for run-on sentences in the future! Thank you, and on behalf of the Lil’ but Mighty family, stay happy, stay safe, and stay healthy!


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How Your Child Will Benefit From Our Secondary English Tuition

  1. Become purposeful and structured in approaching English components (precision in adhering to the question requirements, application of strategies to break down questions)
  2. Use English in a grammatical and appropriate manner to convey meaning and achieve impact in various contexts
  3. Improvement by the next exam (typically 10-20 more marks)
  4. Develop confidence and a love for English and its intricacies

Mr. Ng

Mr Ng firmly believes that there is a strong correlation between effort and eventual success, and that finding success in English is something that is attainable by all of his students regardless of their background and starting point. He has a strong love and passion for the language and hopes to inspire that same passion in his students through his lessons. That being said, he looks forward to bringing out the best in his students and guiding them to fulfil the potential they all have.

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