Business and technical writing are done for the purpose of understanding, and run-on sentences are just plain difficult to understand. It’s hard to know where one sentence ends and the next one begins. (Run-on sentences are also known as compound sentences or fused sentences.)
It’s like someone speaking very fast without pausing.
Many people have the misconception that long sentences are run-on sentences. This is not necessarily true. Long sentences can be grammatically correct. (However, in my opinion, these can also be difficult to read!) And short sentences can, in fact, be run-on.
Proper punctuation—periods, semicolons, dashes, and conjunctions—can easily correct a run-on sentence. Here are some examples of run-on sentences and ways to correct them:
- My favorite pasta is penne it is easy to eat.
Correction: This sentence is two complete clauses in one sentence. They need to be separated by a semicolon, dash, or a subordinate conjunction, such as “because.”
My favorite pasta is penne; it is easy to eat.
My favorite pasta is penne because it is easy to eat.
My favorite pasta is penne—it is easy to eat.
You could also make two separate sentences. But because we assume they are related clauses, some of the meaning may be lost.
- We’re in a hurry, please start the car.
Correction: This is two separate clauses separated by a comma. This is also known as a comma splice. The two clauses can be separated with a semicolon or written as two separate sentences. We can also insert a conjunction with a comma.
We’re in a hurry; please start the car.
We’re in a hurry. Please start the car.
We’re in a hurry, so please start the car.
- Mrs. Jones has been late to work every day this week, this shows her lack of a strong work ethic.
Correction: This is another example of a comma splice. It can be corrected by separating the clauses with a period or a subordinate conjunction, such as “which”.
Mrs. Jones has been late to work every day this week. This shows her lack of a strong work ethic.
Mrs. Jones has been late to work every day this week, which shows her lack of a strong work ethic.
- This article is long, however, I don’t have time to read it.
Correction: Here are two separate clauses connected by a transitional expression. Where the first comma appears, we can insert a period or a semicolon. We can also eliminate “however” and add a conjunction.
This blog post is long. However, I don’t have time to read it.
This blog post is long, and I don’t have time to read it.
Feel free to shoot us a comment if you have any questions or would like us to tackle another issue!