fused sentence

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

fused sentence
A fused sentence is like a fender-bender caused by one car (or sentence) traveling too close to another. (Christof R Schmidt/Getty Images)


A fused sentence is a sentence in which two independent clauses are run together (or "fused") without an appropriate conjunction or mark of punctuation between them.

In prescriptive grammar, fused sentences (also known as run-on sentences) are generally treated as errors.

See Examples and Observations below. Also see:

Examples and Observations

  • The barn was very large it smelled of hay and horses.

  • You can only be young once you can be immature forever.

  • The boys were playing with their trucks in the mud I watched them from the window in my bedroom.
  • Some of the workers would leave their sacks at the store to be picked up the following morning a few had to take them home for repairs.
  • " . . . I hate people that have always their poor story to tell everybody has their own troubles that poor Nancy Blake died a month ago of acute pneumonia well I didn't know her so well as all that she was Floeys friend more than mine . . ."
    (James Joyce, Ulysses, 1922)
  • Recognizing Fused Sentences
    - "Fused sentences are difficult for their writers to identify because the ideas are usually closely related and most writers are not in the habit of examining their sentences for subjects and verbs."
    (Donna Gorrell, A Writer's Handbook from A to Z. Allyn and Bacon, 1997)  

    - "To confirm a sentence is fused, see if you can put a period in the sentence to create two complete sentences. If so and if there is nothing in the original sentence separating these two parts, then there is a fused sentence."
    (Mark Lester and Larry Beason, McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage, 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill, 2012) 

  • Correcting Fused Sentences
    "Adding a period between the clauses is one way to correct a run-on sentence. . . . Other options are to add a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet) between the clauses, to add a semicolon, or to add a semicolon with a conjunctive adverb, such as therefore or however."
    (Gerald Alred, et al., Handbook of Technical Writing. Bedford, 2006)
  • Run-Ons and Comma Splices
    "The distinction between a run-on sentence and a comma splice isn't usually noteworthy. So most writers class the two problems together as run-on sentences.

    "But the distinction can be helpful in differentiating between the wholly unacceptable (true run-on sentences) and the usually-but-not-always unacceptable (comma splices) when (1) the clauses are short and closely related, (2) there is no danger of a miscue, and (3) the context is informal. Thus, 'Jane likes him, I don't.' But even when all three criteria are met, some readers are likely to object."
    (Bryan A. Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage. Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • The Deliberate Use of Fused Sentences
    "The deliberate use of the run-on sentence can sometimes achieve special effects in informal contexts and in representations of colloquial speech. Writers should take care, however, when attempting to use run-on sentences in this way in formal contexts. These uses may easily be interpreted as mistakes or silliness."
    (The American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style. Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

Also Known As: run-on sentence, run-together sentence