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Fragments and Run-on Sentences

Written by tutor Allia S.

Run-on sentences and fragments are the most common sentence errors for students who are learning how to construct sentences and how to combine sentences in English. See combining sentences for more information.

Run-on Sentence

A run-on sentence is a sentence with two independent clauses that have been combined incorrectly. Run-on sentences can be long, but there are also very short run-on sentences as well. Thus, the length of the sentence is not an accurate way of identifying a run-on sentence. So how do you know? Use the sentence below as an example:

Jim hates reading books I love reading all sorts of books.

Looking at the sentence above, how do we know it is a run-on sentence?

1. There are two different ideas being expressed
2. If someone said this to me, it would sound as if the sentence was running together
3. There are two different independent clauses

So now, how do we fix this sentence?

1. Use punctuation (like a period or comma)
     -Ex. Jim hates reading books. I love reading all sorts of books.
2. Use a conjunction to combine similar ideas (FANBOYS)
     -Ex. Jim hates reading books, but I love reading all sorts of books.

Fragments

A fragment sentence is an incomplete thought. Fragments are often missing their main points or subjects and it is difficult to determine what the sentence is talking about. Similar to a dependent clause, a fragment is dependent on the rest of the sentence to make sense.

Went to the store.

Looking at the sentence above, how do we know it is a fragment sentence?

1. We do not know who is doing the action
2. There is no verb in the sentence
3. We do not know why someone is talking about the store
3. We need more context for this clause to make sense
4. This sentence is a dependent clause

How do we fix fragments?

1. The dependent clause must become an independent clause.
2. Give the sentence a subject.
     -Ex. I went to the store.
3. Give the sentence a subject and a verb.
     -Ex. I am going to the store.

*Remember: There are some fragments that are commonly used in English speech that are acceptable. These acceptable fragments usually appear as commands like “Go outside” or “Eat a sandwich.”

Fragments and Run-Ons Practice Quiz

Having seen the movie three times.

A. Run-On Sentence
B. Fragment
The correct answer here would be B.

Sarah left Bill is here.

A. Run-On Sentence
B. Fragment
The correct answer here would be A.

My favorite hobby is skydiving its too expensive and I can't go all the time.

A. Run-On Sentence
B. Fragment
The correct answer here would be A.

Love it.

A. Run-On Sentence
B. Fragment
The correct answer here would be B.

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