Grammar Bite #11: Run-on sentences/Comma splices

14 April 2011


Maybe it’s our fast-paced lives. Maybe it’s the effect of instant-response emails. But lately I’ve noticed an increase in mistakes where the writer doesn't correctly indicate when one idea stops and the next one begins.

 

These common mistakes happen in 'run-on sentences' and 'comma splices'. Today let’s look at how to recognize and correct them.

 

Run-on sentence

A run-on sentence combines two or more independent clauses without the proper conjunction or punctuation.

 

Examples:

Today is a beautiful day I think we should have a picnic.

My cats are very active they sleep a lot too.

I’m available to meet on Tuesday at 3.30pm how about you?

John will bring you the recording tomorrow we hope the quality is okay.

 

Comma splice

Sometimes a writer tries to 'correct' a run-on sentence by inserting a comma between the two clauses. This mistake is called a 'comma splice'.

 

Examples:

Today is a beautiful day, I think we should have a picnic.

My cats are very active, they sleep a lot too.

I’m available to meet on Tuesday at 3.30pm, how about you?

John will bring you the recording tomorrow, we hope the quality is okay.

 

How to correct a run-on sentence or comma splice

There are two ways to correct these mistakes:

 

1) Separate the two clauses with a full stop or semicolon.

Today is a beautiful day. I think we should have a picnic.

My cats are very active; they sleep a lot, too.

I’m available to meet on Tuesday at 3.30pm. How about you?

John will bring you the recording tomorrow. We hope the quality is okay.

 

2) Separate the two clauses with a comma plus one of these conjunctions: and, but, yet, or, nor, for, so.

Today is a beautiful day, so I think we should have a picnic.

My cats are very active, yet they sleep a lot, too.

I’m available to meet on Tuesday at 3.30pm, but how about you?

John will bring you recording tomorrow, and we hope the quality is okay.

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