Conjunctions and Modifiers Help (page 3)

Updated on Sep 28, 2011

Avoiding Fragments and Run-On Sentences

Sentence Boundaries

Expressing complete ideas and clearly indicating where sentences begin and end are essential to effective writing. Two of the most common grammatical errors with sentence boundaries are fragments and run-ons.

Incomplete Sentences (Fragments)

As we stated earlier, a complete sentence must (1) have both a subject (who or what performs the action) and a verb (a state of being or an action), and (2) express a complete thought. If you don't complete a thought, or if you are missing a subject or verb (or both), then you have an incomplete sentence (also called a sentence fragment). To correct a fragment, add the missing subject or verb or otherwise change the sentence to complete the thought.

Incomplete: Which is simply not true. [No subject. (Which is not a subject.)]
Complete: That is simply not true.
Incomplete: For example, the French Revolution. [No verb.]
Complete: The best example is the French Revolution.
Incomplete: Even though the polar icecaps are melting. [Subject and verb, but not a complete thought.]
Complete: Some people still don't believe in global warming even though the polar icecaps are melting.

Run-On Sentences

A run-on sentence occurs when one sentence "runs" right into the next without proper punctuation between them. Usually, there's either no punctuation at all or just a comma between the two thoughts. But commas alone are not strong enough to separate two complete ideas. Here are some examples of run-ons:

      Let's go it's getting late.
      Whether or not you believe me it's true, I didn't lie to you.

There are five ways to correct run-on sentences:

  1. With a period
  2. With a comma and a coordinating conjunction: and, or, nor, for, so, but, yet
  3. With a semicolon
  4. With a dash
  5. With a subordinating conjunction to create a dependent clause: although, because, during, while, etc.

Here's a run-on sentence corrected with each of these techniques:

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