Monday, November 30, 2009

Grammar Guru: Run-on Sentences

by Grammar Guru Wilma Acree

Editors report that run-on sentences (also called run-together sentences, fused sentences, and comma splices) are the most frequent problem in manuscripts. A run-on sentence consists of two sentences jammed together as if they are one thought. Create a mental picture of two cars in a head-on crash, and you will see the effect a run-on sentence has on the reader.

Sentences often clash together when the second sentence begins with a pronoun or with a transitional word or phrase such as however. Sometimes the second sentence contains an example.

Run-on sentences can be corrected in several ways.

Gertrude Stein moved from America to Paris in 1902 she quickly became interested in impressionistic painting.

The pronoun she begins a second thought. Therefore, the sentence needs revision.

1. Break into two sentences.

Insert a period after 1902, and capitalize she.

2. Add a Coordinating conjunction (and, but, or).

Gertrude Stein moved from America to Paris in 1902, and she quickly became interested in impressionistic painting.

Notice the comma before the conjunction.

3. Make one of the sentences into a dependent clause.

Gertrude Stein, who moved from America to Paris in 1902, quickly became interested in impressionistic painting.

After you have written a story or article, search your manuscript for run-on sentences. Go to its end and work backwards. Read each sentence separately. This may help you find run-ons and other errors. Check each sentences for pronouns and ask yourself if the pronoun begins a second sentence. Look for transitional phrases such as however, in fact, nevertheless, etc. Does the transition signal the beginning of a second sentence?

If you have a grammar question for the Grammar Guru, please email it to Put "Grammar Guru" as the subject.


  1. Sandi, Good article. I personally don't care for attributions, with a few exceptions. More than one in an entire paragraph is too much. Okay, I can live with two. Again, thx for a good piece.

  2. Hi, Nike--

    Thanks for stopping by. We're going to be doing more articles on writing techniques. Let us know if there's anything in particular you'd be interested in.

  3. Appreciate an editor presenting this advice. I often sin by using run on sentences. Hopefully, I may reduce sinning in the future. Thanks again.