Run-ons and Comma Splices

Run-ons and Comma Splices

Run-ons and comma splices occur when a writer does not know when one main clause ends and another begins. They are groups of words which ought to be two separate sentences or a single sentence joined in a new way. Students write run-ons when they have two closely related thoughts in their heads. The logical closeness of the thoughts makes seeing that they are separate sentences difficult.

The only difference between run-ons and comma splices is a comma. A run-on is two sentences joined without any intervening punctuation (Desi likes Lucy Fred likes Ethel.). A comma splice is two sentences mistakenly joined by only a comma (Desi likes Lucy, Fred likes Ethel.).
  • The Comma Splice Error: Choosing a new student government president was difficult, there were many fine candidates.
  • The Run-on Error: Choosing a new student government president was difficult there were many fine candidates.
Because run-ons and comma splices are so similar, we will call both run-ons as we do on the GUM sheet.

Words like "therefore," "however," and "in fact" are common sources of problems. These transitional words and phrases should begin new sentences. They are not like the subordinating conjunctions ("since," "if," "because," etc.).

To correct run-on errors either put a period in between the two sentences or figure out how the clauses are related and combine the sentences into a single sentence (Desi likes Lucy. Fred likes Ethel. -- or -- Desi likes Lucy, but Fred likes Ethel.)

Often combining the sentence means making one of the main clauses a phrase or subordinate clause (Though Desi likes Lucy, Fred likes Ethel.).

How to Fix Run-Ons and Comma Splices:

  1. Make Two Separate Sentences: The election of the new student government president was difficult. There were many fine candidates.
  2. If the sentences are closely related, join them with a semi-colon: The election of the new student government president was difficult; there were many fine candidates.
  3. Explain the logical relationship between the sentences by combining: The election of the new student government president was difficult because there were many fine candidates.

Note: Run-ons have nothing to do with the length of a sentence. Long sentences maybe wordy or rambling, but that does not mean they are run-ons.

Quiz

1. A run-on or comma splice is identifiable by -
A. the long and rambling nature of the sentence.
B. the two main clauses not separated properly.
C. the lack of a comma between main clauses.

2. "Let her return to the classroom she's suffered enough."
A. This sentence is correct.
B. This sentence is a run-on.

3. How could one correct this sententence: "She wasn't interested in dancing we went to a movie."
A. She wasn't interested in dancing. We went to a movie.
B. Because she wasn't interested in dancing, we went to a movie.

4. "This happens in the end, therefore, there is nothing one can do about it."
A. This sentence is correct.
B. This is a run-on.

5. "Sometimes understanding the workings of human mind is difficult because it can contain contradictions that seem impossible and that baffle the observer."
A. This sentence is correct.
B. This is a run-on.

6. How could one correct this run-on, "Munch's painting, The Scream, was thought a portrayal of inner anguish when first displayed, it has become a pop icon drained of its power. "
A. Though Munch's painting, The Scream, was thought a portrayal of inner anguish when first displayed, it has become a pop icon drained of its power.
B. Munch's painting, The Scream, was thought a portrayal of inner anguish when first displayed, however, it has become a pop icon drained of its power.

7. How could one correct: "The forensic team competitors were meant to be more than just debaters they were meant to exemplify the school's mission to produce thoughtful young people."
A. debaters they were
B. debaters and were
C. debaters; they were
D. debaters, although they were
E. debaters; being that they were

8. Find the error: Nora, throughout the play,a appears to love Helmer, it isb not until the idea of freedom enters her mind thatc she discovers shed does not love Helmer. No Errore
A.   B.   C.   D.   E.  

9. "I trained for months so that I would be able to withstand the rigors of the contest, a marathon through mountainous terrain."
A. This sentence is correct.
B. This is a run-on.

10. "It's wrong to cheat on grammar quizzes, it shouldn't be done."
A. This sentence is correct.
B. This is a run-on.

of ten right