The Run-On Sentence Problem

A run-on sentence is a serious writing problem that every officer wants to avoid. So…how do you know you’ve written a run-on, and how can you fix one that finds its way into a report you’ve written?

First, a definition. A run-on is a sentence that needs a period. Here’s an example:

I knocked on the door Sam Clinton opened it.  RUN-ON

You can always fix a run-on sentence with a period. Here’s the corrected sentence:

I knocked on the door. Sam Clinton opened it. CORRECT

Don’t be fooled into thinking that every long sentence is a run-on. That’s not true. For example, although the sentence you’re reading right now is too long, in my opinion, there’s no place where it needs a period, so technically it’s not a run-on.

How can you avoid writing a run-on sentence? I think you can answer that question yourself: Use a period when you come to the end of a sentence. Don’t take a breath and keep going!

Charlene talked quietly to Mrs. Wilson I took Mr. Wilson into the dining room.  INCORRECT

Charlene talked quietly to Mrs. Wilson. I took Mr. Wilson into the dining room. CORRECT

Here’s another don’t-be-fooled tip: Don’t put a comma at the end of a sentence. Use a comma at the end of an extra idea. Use a period at the end of a sentence.

While Charlene talked quietly to Mrs. Wilson, EXTRA IDEA

While Charlene talked quietly to Mrs. Wilson,  I took Mr. Wilson into the dining room. CORRECT

(Comma Rule 1 is a huge help with this issue. Click here to learn more.)

Everything you say or write is either an extra idea (with a comma) or a sentence (with a period). Practice hearing the difference, and you’ll see a huge improvement in your sentences. That’s a guarantee!

 

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