Correcting Run-on Sentences Through Coordination and Subordination

Guidelines, Examples, and Exercises

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Correcting Run-on Sentences Through Coordination and Subordination." ThoughtCo, Mar. 12, 2016, thoughtco.com/correcting-run-on-sentences-coordination-subordination-1690351. Nordquist, Richard. (2016, March 12). Correcting Run-on Sentences Through Coordination and Subordination. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/correcting-run-on-sentences-coordination-subordination-1690351 Nordquist, Richard. "Correcting Run-on Sentences Through Coordination and Subordination." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/correcting-run-on-sentences-coordination-subordination-1690351 (accessed October 17, 2017).

In the article Correcting a Run-on Sentence With a Period or Semicolon, we discussed two simple ways of breaking up a fused sentence. But writing nothing but short, simple sentences isn't the best solution to the problem of run-ons. In fact, this might be a step backward, for run-on sentences often result when we first try to combine sentences in new ways.

Rather than shy away from new methods of sentence combining, we should continue to practice combining sentences according to various strategies.

In other words, often the best way to correct a run-on is through one of the techniques of coordination or subordination introduced in the article What Is Sentence Combining and How Does It Work? Here's a brief explanation of how to use those techniques.

Correcting a Run-on Sentence Through Coordination

If you have run together two main clauses that are roughly equal in importance, try fixing the problem by coordinating them. Between the two main clauses put a comma and a coordinating conjunction: and, but, yet, or, nor, for, or so.

Run-on Sentence
Most feet aren't very good looking for ugliness mine have always been in a class by themselves.

Corrected Through Coordination
Most feet aren't very good looking , but for ugliness mine have always been in a class by themselves.
For additional guidelines and examples, see Coordinating Words, Phrases, and Clauses.

Correcting a Run-on Sentence Through Subordination

If the two main clauses in a run-on sentence are not of equal importance, try subordinating one of them.
That is, turn the clause of lesser significance into an adjective clause or an adverb clause.
Run-on Sentence
Last night I had my first taste of sake it is a Japanese beverage made from rice.

Corrected Through Subordination With an Adjective Clause
Last night I had my first taste of sake , which is a Japanese beverage made from rice.

Run-on Sentence
A Frenchman murdered two wives he didn't like their cooking.

Corrected Through Subordination With an Adverb Clause
A Frenchman murdered two wives because he didn't like their cooking.
Here we've used an adjective clause to correct the first run-on and an adverb clause to correct the second one. In fact, we can further reduce the adjective clause in the first sentence to an appositive:
Last night I had my first taste of sake , a Japanese beverage made from rice.
As these examples show, one of the most effective ways of correcting a run-on (and creating a clear, concise sentence in the process) is to turn one of the main clauses into a subordinate clause or phrase. For additional advice on this method, see the following exercises:

We've now considered four basic ways of correcting run-on sentences. The two simplest methods involve separating the main clauses with a mark of punctuation (a period or semicolon). The other two methods involve joining the two clauses correctly through coordination or subordination. If our writing is to be interesting and effective as well as simply correct, we should be adept at applying all four strategies.

Next:
Exercise in Correcting Run-ons Through Coordination and Subordination (page two)

This exercise will give you practice in applying the guidelines on page one of Correcting Run-on Sentences Through Coordination and Subordination. To view the exercise without ads, click on the printer icon near the top of this page.

Instructions:

Correct each run-on sentence below in two different ways. For the first five run-ons, follow the instructions in parenthesis. For the last five, decide for yourself how to correct the faulty sentences effectively.

  1. Most smoke detectors have a test button, this button may test only the sounding device and not the working components.
    (a) Coordinate the two main clauses.
    (b) Turn the first main clause into an adverb clause beginning with "although."
  2. Sunlight flooded the room the pianos, all black, gleamed.
    (a) Coordinate the two main clauses.
    (b) Separate the two main clauses with a semicolon.
  3. Karen's brother kills flies for turtle food her sister repairs screen doors on submarines.
    (a) Coordinate the two main clauses.
    (b) Separate the two main clauses with a semicolon.
  4. We walked back to the big house, it had been built by my great-grandfather almost a century ago.
    (a) Turn the second main clause into an adjective clause.
    (b) Turn the second main clause into a past participle phrase beginning with "built."
  5. I gave your paycheck to Butch he told me you had sent him.
    (a) Turn the second main clause into an adjective clause.
    (b) Turn the second main clause into an adverb clause beginning with "because."
  1. We returned from our vacation the dog was missing.
  2. The gardens are dry the road to the shore is dusty.
  3. Don't carry your house keys in your wallet a pickpocket then has easy access to your house.
  4. Nobody knows for certain how many games Bull Cyclone won the best detective efforts put his record at 97-62-3.
  1. The biggest influence on Bobo's life was his mother she was the owner of a local hardware store.

Answers are on page three.

Answers to the Exercise in Correcting Run-on Sentences Through Coordination and Subordination

Various answers are possible. Keep in mind that not all the corrected sentences below may be equally effective in the context of paragraphs.

  1. (a) Most smoke detectors have a test button, but this button may test only the sounding device and not the working components.
    (b) Although most smoke detectors have a test button, it may test only the sounding device and not the working components.
  1. (a) Sunlight flooded the room, and the pianos, all black, gleamed.
    (b) Sunlight flooded the room; the pianos, all black, gleamed.
  2. (a) Karen's brother kills flies for turtle food, and her sister repairs screen doors on submarines.
    (b) Karen's brother kills flies for turtle food; her sister repairs screen doors on submarines.
  3. (a) We walked back to the big house, which had been built by my great-grandfather almost a century ago.
    (b) We walked back to the big house, built by my great-grandfather almost a century ago.
  4. (a) I gave your paycheck to Butch, who told me you had sent him.
    (b) I gave your paycheck to Butch because he told me you had sent him.
  5. (a) We returned from our vacation, and the dog was missing.
    (b) When we returned from our vacation, the dog was missing.
  6. (a) The gardens are dry, and the road to the shore is dusty.
    (b) The gardens are dry; the road to the shore is dusty.
  7. (a) Don't carry your house keys in your wallet, because then a pickpocket has easy access to your house.
    (b) If you carry your house keys in your wallet, a pickpocket has easy access to your house.
  1. (a) Nobody knows for certain how many games Bull Cyclone won, but the best detective efforts put his record at 97-62-3.
    (b) Although nobody knows for certain how many games Bull Cyclone won, the best detective efforts put his record at 97-62-3.
  2. (a) The biggest influence on Bobo's life was his mother, who was the owner of a local hardware store.
    (b) The biggest influence on Bobo's life was his mother, the owner of a local hardware store.