Sentence Fragments, Run-On Sentences, and a Comma Splices

by , under Grammar


Punctuation errors are easy to make and hard to spot. For some writers, it is especially hard to catch punctuation errors such as sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and comma splices. These punctuation errors can really make your writing seem chaotic. A grammar checker can catch these errors some of the time. Better than a grammar checker is your ability to catch these errors yourself.


Sentence fragments

A sentence fragment refers to groups of words that act like a sentence yet cannot stand on their own because the writer has made a range of mistakes. To start with, the right subject-verb relationship may not be available within the independent clause. For example, a statement such as Working Far into the Night with the Aim of Finding Their Ornament is a sentence fragment because the writer tries to describe something but fails to create a relationship between the subject and the verb. A different idea may also create a subordination of the relationship. It is worth noting that this can be acceptable when a writer is using it as a style in their pieces. The freedom is, however, restricted in professional writing.

INCORRECT:  The sun shining.

CORRECT:  The sun is shining.


Run-on sentences

A run-on sentence is also known as a fused sentence. It has two independent clauses. The two parts are improperly connected. Even short sentences can be run-on sentences. In a nutshell, sentences are run-on sentences when two independent clauses are joined with a coordinator without a comma, or they are linked by a conjunctive adverb. This mistake is easily corrected with the right punctuation and conjunction.


INCORRECT: Our house is narrow but it has 8 floors.

CORRECT:  Our house is narrow, but it has 8 floors.

EXPLANATION:  The conjunction “but” joins two sentences without a comma. Add a comma before the conjunction.


INCORRECT:  I asked everyone if they had seen my parrot but no one saw it.

CORRECT:  I asked everyone if they had seen my parrot, but no one saw it.


Comma splice errors

A comma splice is an error made by the writer when they use a comma to join two independent clauses. For instance, a sentence such as I am going to the library, I will study for my exam. In this case, the comma is utilized to join two independent clauses. It can be fixed by adding a conjunction. A semicolon can also be utilized because they are strong enough to create a relationship between two independent clauses. Furthermore, the writer may opt to write two different sentences and hence do away with the comma. In the artistic forms of writing such as poetry, the comma slices can be embraced to create an exciting piece. The racing thoughts of a character in a fictional story can be linked using the splices. In professional writing, however, this mistake must be avoided.

INCORRECT:  I am going to the library, I will study for my exam.

CORRECT:  I am going to the library. I will study for my exam.

CORRECT:  I am going to the library, and I will study for my exam.

It is clear that the run-on sentences, comma splices, and sentence fragments are different. However, they share a common characteristic; they tend to be utilized when a person is trying to create the appropriate independent clauses in a sentence. The writer may not be aware of how to create a subject and the verb properly, hence coming up with a sentence fragment. They may also be trying to create a connection between one thought to another, and will, therefore, make the mistake of including the run-on sentences and comma splices in a sentence. To avoid this, it is critical to observe the grammatical rules and regulations when writing. Proofreading the written materials is also worth considering.