Rambling and Run On Sentences

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Fleming, Grace. "Rambling and Run On Sentences." ThoughtCo, Apr. 14, 2017, thoughtco.com/rambling-and-run-on-sentences-1857155. Fleming, Grace. (2017, April 14). Rambling and Run On Sentences. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/rambling-and-run-on-sentences-1857155 Fleming, Grace. "Rambling and Run On Sentences." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/rambling-and-run-on-sentences-1857155 (accessed September 26, 2017).
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Rambling or run-on sentences are sentences that contain several independent clauses in a row, to the point that they sound clumsy and exhausting. In case you need to review, an independent clause is a phrase that could be a whole sentence on its own:

  • I like eggs for breakfast.
  • My sister prefers pancakes.

Each of the phrases above can stand as a sentence on its own, but if you wrote them (and others) this way in an essay, the overall message would sound choppy.

  • I like eggs for breakfast. But my sister prefers pancakes. So our mom makes both. And we can each have what we want.

To keep our writing from sounding too choppy, we can connect sentences to become two or more independent clauses in a single sentence. These are correctly connected by a coordinating conjunction.

  • I like eggs for breakfast, but my sister prefers pancakes. Our mom makes both, so we can each have what we want.

See how that sounds better? They do sound better, but we have to be careful not to overdo it! We can't put too many independent clauses in one sentence, or we have our run-ons or our rambling sentences.

Note: You can remember the coordinating conjunctions by memorizing the word FANBOYS.

  • F = for
  • A = and
  • N = nor
  • B = but
  • O = or
  • Y = yet
  • S = so

Rambling Sentences

A rambling sentence may appear to follow the technical rules of grammar in places, but the sentence just sounds wrong because the thought rambles from one topic to another.

The passage below is a single sentence that contains many independent clauses.

I was happy to walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding, but I was very embarrassed when I stumbled in the middle of the ceremony, for when I recovered, I looked up and saw my sister and I thought she was going to faint, because I could see her standing in the doorway waiting to begin her own walk down the aisle, and her face was all white, she looked like she was going to throw up.

Much of this looks correct because the various clauses are connected correctly (except one comma splice). Don’t hesitate to break up sentences that ramble:

I was happy to walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding. However, I was very embarrassed when I stumbled in the middle of the ceremony--especially when I recovered. I looked up and saw my sister and I thought she was going to faint. I could see her standing in the doorway, waiting to begin her own walk down the aisle. Her face was all white and she looked like she was going to throw up!

Run-On Sentences

In a run-on sentence, the clauses are not properly connected with correct punctuation or a coordinating conjunction. 

  • Problem: Every time I go to the grocery store I run into the same girl her name is Fran and she is a friend of my cousin.
  • Solution 1: Every time I go to the grocery store, I run into the same girl; her name is Fran, and she is a friend of my cousin.
  • Solution 2: Every time I go to the grocery store, I run into the same girl. Her name is Fran, and she is a friend of my cousin.

See how the solutions improve the sentence?

  • Problem: I try not to use pens that tend to leak I've lost a few backpacks because of leaky pens.
  • Solution 1: I try not to use pens that tend to leak. I've lost a few backpacks because of leaky pens.
  • Solution 2: I try not to use pens that tend to leak, yet I've lost a few backpacks because of leaky pens.