Since Spoonful #60 covered COMMA SPLICES, it's only fair the troublesome twin gets top billing in this spoonful. RUN-ON SENTENCES occur when two complete sentences are smashed together without anything to connect them. Yikes is right!
Here's a question to start us off: What's the difference between a RUN-ON SENTENCE and a COMMA SPLICE?
Answer: A COMMA SPLICE connects two complete sentences with a comma and nothing else. A RUN-ON SENTENCE doesn't use any punctuation or connectors (like FOR, AND, NOR, BUT, OR, YET, and SO, the FANBOYS of grammar). The key to detecting both of these problems is to understand what constitutes a complete sentence!
Every sentence requires a verb. While some sentences consist of a single verb (Run! and Yikes! are two examples), we're interested in complete sentences that also have a subject and an object.
Consider the following sentence:
My dog pulled on her leash.
My dog = the subject; pulled = the verb; and her leash = the object.
(If you're interested, on her leash forms a prepositional phrase, which will never form a SUBJECT.)
Now consider a 2nd but related sentence:
She barked at the noisy geese.
She = the subject; barked = the verb; and the noisy geese = the object.
To create a RUN-ON SENTENCE, put one after the other without a comma or connector between. Subjects are underlined.
My dog pulled on her leash she barked loudly.
There are 3 choices to properly connect two complete sentences. These are the same 3 choices shown in the last spoonful!
CHOICE#1: Using periods
My dog pulled on her leash. She barked loudly.
CHOICE #2: Using a comma + a FANBOY (or other connector)
My dog pulled on her leash, and she barked loudly.
CHOICE: #3: Using a semicolon
My dog pulled on her leash; she barked loudly.
For more details about FANBOYS, proper semicolon usage, identifying subjects, and subject/verb matching, check out these earlier spoonfuls:
Spoonful #3: SUBJECT
Spoonful #4: SUBJECT/VERB AGREEMENT
Spoonful #9: MEET THE FANBOYS
Spoonful #10: FANBOYS STRIKE AGAIN
Spoonful #7: SEMICOLONS SPEAK OUT
Please accept my most sincere hopes for your continued health and safety. I'll return next Sunday with an appropriate post for Mother's Day!
Laura Fineberg Cooper
A Spoonful of Grammar