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INFORMATION: Run-on Sentences

Recognizing & Revising Run-on Sentences


Run-on sentences are independent clauses that have not been joined correctly.
When two independent clauses appear in one sentence, they must be joined in one
of these ways:
o
o

With a comma and a coordinating conjunction


With a semicolon (or occasionally with a colon or a dash)

Recognizing run-on sentences


There are two types of run-on sentences. When a writer puts no mark of punctuation
and no coordinating conjunction between independent clauses, the result is called a
fused sentence.
Example: Air pollution poses risks to all humans it can be deadly for asthma sufferers
.
A far more common type of run-on sentence is the comma splicetwo or more
independent clauses joined with a comma but without a coordinating conjunction.
Example: In some comma splices, the comma appears alone:
Air pollution poses risks to all humans, it can be deadly for asthma sufferers.
In other comma splices, the comma is accompanied by a joining word that is not a
coordinating conjunction.
Example: Air pollution poses risks to all humans, however, it can be deadly for
asthma sufferers. (However is a transitional expression, not a coordinating
conjunction.)
Revising Run-on Sentences
To revise a run-on sentence, you have four choices:
1. Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
Example: Air pollution poses risks to all humans, but it can be deadly for asthma
sufferers.
2. Use a semicolon, either alone or accompanied by a transitional expression.
Example: Air pollution poses risks to all humans; it can be deadly for asthma
sufferers.

Example: Air pollution poses risks to all humans; however, it can be deadly for
asthma sufferers.
3. Make the clauses into separate sentences.
Example: Air pollution poses risks to all humans. It can be deadly for asthma
sufferers.
4. Restructure the sentence, perhaps by subordinating one of the clauses.
Example: Although air pollution poses risks to all humans, it can be deadly for
asthma sufferers.
One of these revision techniques usually works better than the others for a particular
sentence. The fourth technique, the one requiring the most extensive revision, is
often the most effective.

INFORMATION: More About Coordination


Coordinating with Conjunctive Adverbs
accordingly
also
anyway
besides
certainly
consequently
finally
further

furthermore
hence
however
incidentally
indeed
instead
likewise
meanwhile

moreover
namely
nevertheless
next
nonetheless
now
otherwise

similarly
still
then
thereafter
therefore
thus
undoubtedly

These connecting words (aka conjunctive adverbs) work in ways that parallel the
simple conjunctions (FANBOYS), but they are more complex. The definitions of
these words can overlap, so you want to be careful about how and when you use
them.
There are several ways to place and punctuate these words in a sentence. In the
following examples, we will take a look at one of those patterns. The simple
sentences are connected in the following pattern:
INDEPENDENT CLAUSE ; conjunctive adverb, INDEPENDENT CLAUSE.
Note: Many of these have similar meanings to one of the FANBOYS. Despite these
similar meanings, be aware of the different patterns of puncutation associated with
different types of conjunctions.

consequently, therefore: Show a cause/effect relationship between the independent


clauses.
Example: Jonathan read the company website and articles about the company
before his interview. He was able to ask very good questions during his interview.
Revision: Jonathan read the company website and articles about the company
before his interview; therefore, he was able to ask very good questions during his
interview.
furthermore, in addition, moreover: Similar to the word and, but with more of a
relationship to the first part of the sentence.
Example: Mary checked the grammar in her college application essay twice. She
asked her neighbor to check the grammar one more time.
Revision: Mary checked the grammar in her college application essay twice; in
addition, she asked her neighbor to check the grammar one more time.
however: Shows a contrasting relationship between the independent clauses.
Example: Martin'ss car didnt start this morning. He got a jump start from his
neighbor and was able to make it to his appointment on time.
Revision: Martins car didnt start this morning; however, he got a jump start from
his neighbor and was able to make it to his appointment on time.
indeed, in fact: Use for addition/continuation and to add emphasis.
Example: Paula seems to be a workaholic. She spent the holiday in her office
finishing the report.
Revision: Paula seems to be a workaholic; in fact, she spent the holiday in her
office finishing the report.
nevertheless: Shows contrast and sometimes unexpected result (aka concession).
Example: All his friends have been praising the high quality of service in the new
coffee shop for months. When he went there, the server was quite rude.
Revision: All his friends have been praising the high quality of service in the new
coffee shop for months; nevertheless, when he went there, the server was quite rude.

then: Something happening in sequence, after a previous event.


Example: Wendy carefully reviewed the credit cards offers she had received this
month. She chose the one with the best terms and completed the application.
Revision: Wendy carefully reviewed the credit cards offers she had received this
month; then, she chose the one with the best terms and completed the application.

INFORMATION: Subordination: Adverb & Adjective


Clauses
One way to make a complex sentence is too combine an adverb or adjective clause
with an independent clause.
Adverb clauses usually modify verbs, in which case, they may appear nearly
everywhere in a sentenceat the beginning, at the end, or in the middle. They tell
when, where, why, under what conditions, or to what degree an action occurred or a
situation existed.
When the well is dry, we know the worth of the water. (adv. clause modifies know)
Adverb clauses are sometimes elliptical, with some of their words being understood
but not appearing in the sentence.
When [it is] painted, the room will look larger. (adv. clause modifies will look)
Words that introduce adverb clauses
Subordinating conjunctions: after, although, as, as if, because, before, even
though, if, in order that, rather than, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until,
when, where, whether, while
Adjective clauses modify nouns or pronouns. An adjective clause nearly always
appears immediately following the noun or pronoun it modifies.
The arrow that has left the bow never returns. (adj. clause modifies arrow)
Relatives are persons who live too near and visit too often. (adj. clause modifies
persons)
To test whether the subordinate clause functions as an adjective, ask the adjective
questions: Which one? What kind of? The answer should make sense. Which arrow?

The arrow that has left the bow. What kind of persons? Persons who live too near
and visit too often.
Most adjective clauses begin with a relative pronoun (who, whom, whose, which, or
that), which marks them as grammatically subordinate. In addition to introducing the
clause, the relative pronoun points back to the noun that the clause modifies.
The fur that warms the monarch once warmed a bear. (adj. clause modifies fur)
Relative pronouns are sometimes understood.
The things [that] we know best are the things [that] we havent been taught.
Occasionally an adjective clause is introduced be a relative adverb, usually when,
where, or why.
Home is a place where you slip in the tub and break your neck.
Words that introduce adjective clauses:
Relative pronouns: that, which, who, whom, whose
Relative adverbs: when, where, why

Important Definitions
1. Sentence Subject:
The subject of a sentence is the noun, pronoun or noun phrase that precedes and
governs the main verb. The subject is the part of the sentence that performs an
action or which is associated with the action. For example: My dog attacked the
burglar. ("My dog" is the subject, controlling the verb and the rest of the sentence.)
by Catherine (retrieved from englishlanguageguide.com).

2. Sentence Predicate
The predicate tells something about the subject. In the following sentences, the
predicate is enclosed in braces ({}), while the subject is highlighted. Note: Predicates
must contain a verb.
Judy {runs}.
Judy and her dog {run on the beach every morning}.
Adapted from University of Ottawa Writing Centre. http://www.arts.uottawa.ca/writcent/hypergrammar/sntstrct.html

3. Phrase
A collection of grammatically related words without a subject or a predicate that act
as a single unit in a sentence.

Note: As opposed to a clause: a collection of grammatically related words that


includes both a predicate and a (sometimes implied) subject.

Examples:
(1) the store across the street (this is a noun phrase because it starts with a noun);
(2) across the street (a prepositional phrase because it begins with the preposition
across);
(3) run fast (a verb phrase because it starts with a verb);
(4) green grass (an adjectival phrase); and
(5) very carefully (an adverbial phrase because it starts with the adverb very)
Adapted from the Online Dictionary of Language Terminology, http://www.odlt.org/ballast/phrase.html.

4. Independent clause
A group of words that contains a subject and a verb and which expresses a complete
thought. In essence, an independent clause is a simple sentence.
Examples:
(1) Barry ate macaroni for dinner.
(this is an independent clause because the thought is complete)
(2) While Barry ate macaroni for dinner, .
(this is a subordinate clause, because the thought is incomplete)
Adapted from the Online Dictionary of Language Terminology, http://www.odlt.org/ballast/phrase.html.
5. Dependent clause
A clause that doesn't express a complete thought. They are also called
subordinate clauses.

Example - Because it was Tuesday

Usage:
1. When a dependent clause comes before an independent clause, put a
comma between them.
Because we were bored, we decided to go to the movies.
2. But don't use comma when the dependent clause comes after the
independent clause.
We decided to go to the movies because we were bored.
Adapted from the Online Dictionary of Language Terminology, http://www.odlt.org/ballast/phrase.html.

6. Modifier
A modifier is a word or group of words that describes another word and makes its

meaning more specific. Often modifying phrases add information about "where,"
"when" or "how" something is done. Modifiers work best when placed next to the
word it modifies.
MY EXAMPLE: The tired student continued to work on the new assignment.
SOURCE: "Study Guides and Strategies: English/American Grammar" web site
"tired" is describing the student and " on the new assignment" is describing the type
of work.
(by Michael Fay)

7. Conjunction
An part of speech that connects words, phrases, and clauses.

Example (1) Bob and Tom (coordinating conjunction)


(2) Both truth and beauty (correlative conjunction)
(3) I left because I was tired. (subordinating conjunction)
Adapted from the Online Dictionary of Language Terminology, http://www.odlt.org/ballast/phrase.html.

8. Relative pronoun
Relative pronouns are who, whom, which, whose, and that.
A relative pronoun links two clauses into a single complex clause. It is similar in
function to a subordinating conjunction. Unlike a conjunction, however, a relative
pronoun stands in place of a noun. Compare:
(1) This is a house. Jack built this house. (2) This is the house that Jack built.
Sentence (2) consists of two clauses, a main clause (This is the house) and a relative
clause (that Jack built). The word that is a relative pronoun.
Source: Wikipedia
My example:
1) This is a Santa Ana wind. Santa Ana winds are common in California.
2) This is a Santa Ana wind, which is common in California.
(by Michael Fay)

9. Subordination
The dependence of one clause upon another clause.

Example: I went to bed because I was sick.


(The highlighted clause is dependent on the other. Therefore, It is also known as a
subordinate clause.)

Adapted from the Online Dictionary of Language Terminology, http://www.odlt.org/ballast/phrase.html.

10. Coordination
The process of connecting grammatical units of equal status, such as coordinate
clauses.
Notes:
1. The units are usually connected by a coordinating conjunction, such as and or
but.

Example: The man and his dog


(In the example, the coordinating conjunction and separates two units of equal
status)

Simple, Compound, & Complex Structures


SIMPLE SENTENCE
A simple sentence, also called an independent clause, contains a subject and a
verb, and it expresses a complete thought. In the following simple sentences,
subjects are in yellow, and verbs are in green.
A. Some students like to study in the mornings.
B. Steven and Bill play basketball every afternoon.
C. Alicia goes to the library and studies every day.

The three examples above are all simple sentences. Note that sentence B contains a
compound subject, and sentence C contains a compound verb. Simple
sentences, therefore, contain a subject and verb and express a complete thought,
but they can also contain a compound subjects or verbs.
COMPOUND SENTENCE
A compound sentence contains two independent clauses joined by a
coordinator. The coordinators are as follows: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. (Helpful
hint: The first letter of each of the coordinators spells FANBOYS.) Except for very
short sentences, coordinators are always preceded by a comma. In the following

compound sentences, subjects are in yellow, verbs are in green, and the
coordinators and the commas that precede them are in red.
A. I tried to speak Spanish, and my friend tried to speak English.
B. Steven played football, so Mary went shopping.
C. Steven played football, for Mary went shopping.

The above three sentences are compound sentences. Each sentence contains two
independent clauses, and they are joined by a coordinator with a comma preceding
it.
Note how the conscious use of coordinators can change the relationship between the
clauses. Sentences B and C, for example, are identical except for the coordinators.
In sentence B, which action occurred first? Obviously, "Steven played football" first,
and as a consequence, "Mary went shopping." In sentence C, "Mary went shopping"
first. In sentence C, "Steven played football" because, possibly, he didn't have
anything else to do, for or because "Mary went shopping." How can the use of other
coordinators change the relationship between the two clauses? What implications
would the use of "yet" or "but" have on the meaning of the sentence?
COMPLEX SENTENCE
A complex sentence has an independent clause joined by one or more dependent
clauses. A complex sentence always has a subordinator such as because, since,
after, although, or when or a relative pronoun such as that, who, or which. In the
following complex sentences, subjects are in yellow, verbs are in green, and the
subordinators and their commas (when required) are in red.
A. When he handed in his homework, he forgot to give the teacher the last page.
B. The teacher returned the homework after she noticed the error.
C. The students are studying because they have a test tomorrow.
D. After they had finished studying, Steven and Mary went to the movies.
E. Steven and Mary went to the movies after they had finished studying.

When a complex sentence begins with a subordinator such as sentences A and D, a


comma is required at the end of the dependent clause. When the independent clause
begins the sentence with subordinators in the middle as in sentences B, C, and E, no

comma is required. If a comma is placed before the subordinators in sentences B, C,


and E, it is wrong.
Note that sentences D and E are the same except sentence D begins with the
dependent clause which is followed by a comma, and sentence E begins with the
independent clause which contains no comma.
COMPLEX SENTENCES / ADJECTIVE CLAUSES
Sentences containing adjective clauses (dependent) are also complex because they
contain an independent clause and a dependent clause. The subjects, verbs, and
subordinators (relative pronouns and relative adverbs) are marked the same as in
the previous sentences, and in these sentences, the independent clauses are also
underlined.
A. The woman who(m) my mom talked to sells cosmetics.
B. The book that Jonathan read is on the shelf.
C. The house which Abraham Lincoln was born in is still standing.
D. The town where I grew up is in the United States.