Honestly, if some of us ran as much as our sentences did, we would be fit enough to compete in the Olympics.
As you've probably guessed, this chapter will be dedicated entirely to run-on sentences (and how to stop them from running). As a reviewer, this is one of the most common errors I find, and it was one of the most requested topics, too, when I asked what everyone wanted me to discuss.
Note: Chapters that discuss grammatical rules will be as formal as possible. I don't want to tease anyone or make jokes about stories with poor grammar. Why? English grammar is hard. It is complex. It is inconsistent. And it is not taught very well in schools.
Besides, a lot of Wattpadians learn English as a second language. It's unfair to make fun of someone for having poor grammar.
... Unless, of course, they insist they are correct when they are most definitely not.
... Or when they know they are wrong, but refuse to learn how to fix it.
If that's the case, feel free to roll your orbs- I mean, eyes at them.
Now, before we launch into run-on sentences, the first thing you need to learn about is clauses. A clause is a group of words that contains both a subject and a verb. For example:
Harry Styles farted. [subject = Harry Styles, verb = farted]
Sunshine hates coming up with examples. [subject = Sunshine, verb = hates]
Now, those above examples were independent clauses — they work perfectly as sentences on their own. However, a dependent clause is one that does not function as a sentence if it was put on its own. For example:
The hot vampire teenager was too busy flirting with the random new kid, which was why he failed his maths test.
In that above example, "the hot teenager was too busy flirting with the random new kid" is an independent clause. It works as a sentence on its own. However, "which was why he failed his maths test" cannot function as a complete sentence on its own. It is a dependent clause.
So why are these clauses important?
A run-on sentence is when two independent clauses (or more) are inappropriately stuck together in a single sentence. For example:
The protagonist loved looking in the mirror, she could describe her average self to the reader every day.
That above example is a run-on sentence — more specifically, a comma splice. Since they are independent clauses, they should not be in a sentence together. There are four ways to fix this.
1. Separate the clauses with a period:
The protagonist loved looking in the mirror. She could describe her average self to the reader every day.
2. If the clauses are closely related enough, separate them with a semicolon or an em dash:
The protagonist loved looking in the mirror; she could describe her average self to the reader every day.
3. Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or) to link them together:
The protagonist loved looking in the mirror, and she could describe her average self to the reader every day.
4. Use a subordinating conjunction (because, although, unless) to change one of the clauses into a dependent clause:
Because the protagonist loved looking in the mirror, she could describe her average self to the reader every day.
In other words, if you want to look for run-on sentences, check your sentences carefully. Do you have two independent clauses separated by only a comma — or, worse yet, not separated at all? That's probably a run-on sentence. I suggest you use one of the four methods above to change it.
And is there a "best method" out of the four? No. However, try to avoid sounding repetitive — don't start all your sentences with a subordinate conjunction, and don't ensure that all your sentences are simple. The more diverse your sentence structures are, the richer and more engaging the writing is.
Do you have any questions about this? If anything was unclear, let me know — I'll be more than happy to explain it in more detail with more clarity.
In the next chapter, we will be breaking down past tense and present tense — which should you use, how do you write in them, and why the heck are there nine forms of past tense. Stay tuned!
As always, I'm taking on requests for chapter ideas, and I'd also love to hear any stories you have regarding literally anything. Give me your horrible review experiences, or tell about the longest and wildest sentence you have ever seen, or your Harry Styles fan club. I want this to be as interactive as possible!
Also, someone suggested a little podcast-like thing on Discord for me and a few reviewers to host. How do people feel about this? I love the idea, but I'd like to know how many people are interested in this.
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