Run-on sentences often plague the work of young writers who mistakenly believe that they are writing complex, whole sentences. A run-on is formed when two independent clauses are combined into a single sentence without any punctuation. One type of run-on is a comma splice. These occur when two complete sentences are joined by only a comma.
An example of a run-on: I don’t have my homework my dog ate it.
An example of a run-on using a comma splice: I don’t have my homework, my dog ate it.
Separate Two Independent Clauses with a Period
There are four different ways that one can correct run-on sentences. The first is to simply add a period in between the two independent clauses.
Example: I don’t have my homework. My dog ate it.
This is a very easy way to fix a run-on, but if it is relied upon too heavily, a writer will end up with only short simple sentences.
Put in a Dependent Word
Another way to fix run-on sentences is to add a subordinating conjunction. This is a dependent word which will make one of the complete sentences a dependent clause. Subordinating conjunctions are words like because, after, although, before, though, as, when, where, and which, to name just a few.
Example: I don’t have my homework because my dog ate it.
Fix it with FANBOY
A third way of fixing a run-on sentence is to use a coordinating conjunction. These are the words for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. They can easily be remembered using the acronym FANBOYS. When added to a run-on sentence, the coordinating conjunctions have to be preceded by a comma.
Example 1: I don’t have my homework, for my dog ate it.
Example 2: I need a polo shirt, and I also need new shoes.
Example 3: He was running late, so he decided to call.
Insert a Semicolon
The final way of fixing run-ons, which is similar to the first, is by adding a semicolon in between the two independent clauses.
Example: I don’t have my homework; my dog ate it.
Complete sentences are a necessity in student writing, so learning how to fix a run-on is very important. Adding a period, semicolon, dependent word, or FANBOY, when appropriate, will help a student ensure that they are not using run-on sentences.