Humanities › English What Are Run-on Sentences and How Do You Fix Them? Share Flipboard Email Print Leren Lu / Getty Images English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated February 05, 2020 In prescriptive grammar, a run-on sentence occurs when two independent clauses have been run together without an appropriate conjunction or mark of punctuation between them. Put another way, a run-on is a compound sentence that has been incorrectly coordinated or punctuated. Run-on sentences aren't always excessively long sentences, but they can be confusing to readers because they tend to express more than one main idea without making clear connections between the two. Usage guides commonly identify two kinds of run-on sentences: fused sentences and comma splices. In either case, there are five common ways of correcting a run-on sentence: Making the independent clauses two simple sentences separated by a periodAdding a semicolonUsing a comma and a coordinating conjunction wordReducing the two to a single independent clauseChanging the sentence into a complex sentence by adding a subordinating conjunction before one of the clauses Comma Splices and Fused Sentences Sometimes, run-on sentences occur even when a comma is present between independent clauses because of the omission of joining words and phrases. This type of error is called a comma splice and typically should be separated by either a semicolon or a period instead. Interestingly, Bryan A. Garner's "The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style" states that while there is a distinction between run-on sentences and comma splices, it isn't typically noteworthy. However, Garner also adds "The distinction can be helpful in differentiating between the wholly unacceptable (true run-on sentences) and the usually-but-not-always unacceptable (comma splices)." As a result, comma splices may sometimes be regarded as acceptable in certain situations. Fused sentences, on the other hand, occur when there is an error in which two sentences "are run together without a punctuation mark between them," according to Robert DiYanni and Pat Hoy II's "The Scribner Handbook for Writers." Fused sentences are never accepted as grammatically acceptable. Five Ways of Correcting Run-on Sentences Academic writing requires grammatical accuracy in order for the work to be taken seriously; as a result, it is important for writers to eliminate run-on sentences in order to convey a professional tone and style. Fortunately, there are five common ways in which grammarians recommend fixing run-on sentences: Make two simple sentences of the run-on sentence.Add a semicolon to divide the two sentences to imply "and/or" between them.Add a comma and joining word to link the two sentences.Reduce the two spliced sentences to one cohesive sentence.Place a subordinating conjunction before one of the clauses. As an example, take the incorrect run-on sentence: "Cory loves food he has his own blog about restaurants." To correct this, one might add a period after "food" and capitalize the word "he" to form two simple sentences or add a semicolon to imply the word "and" between "food" and "he." Alternatively, one might add a comma and the word "and" to join the two sentences together or reduce the sentence to: "Cory loves food and even has his own food blog" to form the two clauses into a single independent clause. Finally, one can add a subordinating conjunction like "because" to one of the clauses to form a complex sentence like: "Because Cory loves food, he has his own food blog." Sources Garners, Bryan A. The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style. Oxford University Press, 2000. DiYanni, Robert and Pat Hoy II. The Scribner Handbook for Writers. 4th ed, Longman, 2003.