How not to write a sentence

Three common mistakes to avoid when you craft your text—whether it’s a blog post, press release, or article.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

A sentence is a sequence of words that expresses a complete thought. It is an independent clause that contains a subject and a verb. (Note: The subject can be implied, as in an imperative: Stop! The implied subject in this case is you.)

We get into trouble when we combine two complete thoughts into one sentence without using the appropriate punctuation or conjunction.

The run-on sentence

A run-on sentence contains two or more independent clauses with no connector between them. If independent clauses are not separated into distinct sentences by a period, then they must be connected by a comma and a conjunction or by a semicolon.

Remember that the length of a sentence does not determine whether the sentence is a run-on. Run-on sentences have structural flaws that can occur even in short sentences.

Long sentences are not necessarily run-on sentences. Here is a 200-word sentence that is not a run-on.

The comma splice

Another type of run-on sentence is a comma splice. A comma splice is a sentence with a comma between the two independent clauses.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.