How to Catch and Correct Run-on Sentences

A “run-on” sentence contains two (or more) independent clauses that are incorrectly joined together. (An independent clause is a word group that can stand alone as a sentence.)

To catch or to correct run-on sentences, follow these common guidelines:

  1. Join the two clauses with a comma and a coordinating conjunction*
  2. Break the run-on sentence into two separate sentences
  3. Join the clauses with a semi-colon and a conjunctive adverb** followed by a comma; however,
  4. Join the clauses with a semi-colon

*Use this mnemonic for remembering the coordinating conjunctions: FANBOYS = For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So

**conjunctive adverbs include therefore, nevertheless, however, as a result, in any case, consequently, and thus

Incorrect

  • Body language is non-verbal everyone uses it to communicate.
  • Tom enjoys playing hockey, he plays it as much as he can.
  • Many people believe that violence on television has a negative effect on our youth, however, this topic continues to be debated.
  • Increased pollution in the environment threatens the health of millions this is an indisputable fact.

Correct

  • Body language is non-verbal, and everyone uses it to communicate. (coordinating conjunction preceded by a comma)
  • Tom enjoys playing hockey. He plays it as much as he can. (two sentences)
  • Many people believe that violence on television has a negative effect on our youth; however, this topic continues to be debated. (semi-colon + conjunctive adverb + comma)
  • Increased pollution in the environment threatens the health of millions; this is an indisputable fact. (semi-colon)