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Running Away From the Run-On Sentence


It's amazing how many people don't understand when a sentence should end, they misuse the comma when they mean to use a period.


See? After the word "end," there should have been a period.


A "run-on" sentence is the accident caused by cobbling together two sentences as if they were one. It's a fairly common deficiency in writing. It's a careless mistake associated with rushing through the writing process instead of really crafting your work. Haste makes waste! When you record your thoughts in an unorganized flow like that, you're making the reader "run," too, without a break. Too many clauses within one sentence is confusing and stressful.


Imagine that your reader is a runner, and every period in a piece of your writing is a breath of air for your reader. Nobody gets very far in a running race without taking a lot of breaths! So provide them.


Also, when you sit down to write, imagine that you have a great, big barrel full of periods and only a tiny thimble full of all the other punctuation marks. You have enough periods to use them lavishly. But you have so few of all the rest that you can dip into the thimble for commas and the other marks only once in a while.


That visualization should help you keep your sentences mostly to a single idea.


Yes, 31 one-clause sentences in a row is booooooring reading. So yes, watch out for choppiness. Vary your sentence length. But remember: shorter is better, especially for reading comprehension.



By Susan Darst Williams Grammar Granny 012 2006


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