When you write an academic essay, you have a lot of information to consider. All of this information is jockeying for a place in the essay; each piece wants to go first, and to be the most important. Sometimes, because of this mass of information, it is hard to stick to one topic at a time. One of the problems that will arise from this is that you may find yourself writing a lot of run on sentences. If you can identify what a run-on sentence is, then you will be able to avoid them more easily. A run-on sentence has at least two independent clauses that are improperly fused together. They are either two clauses that are best left separate because they do not actually connect to each other, or they are two clauses that have a connection that is insufficient. Run-on sentences can be confusing to recognize. They offer a tempting means of organizing a mass of information. Run-on sentences are tempting, because they masquerade as complex clauses. In an academic essay, it is important to take your time when organizing your thoughts. Analyze your sentences, and try to notice how each clause connects to the next one. Here are some examples of run-on sentences:
1. When an independent clause gives an order or directive based on what was said in the prior independent clause:
The restaurant is downtown, you should take the freeway.
2. When two independent clauses are connected by a transitional expression (conjunctive adverb) such as however, moreover, nevertheless.
Ms. Smith enjoys the literature program at her college, however, she has left her homework in the library.
3. When the second of two independent clauses contains a pronoun that connects it to the first independent clause.
This DVD player isn’t working, it didn’t’ come with instructions.
How do we fix these sentences?
One way that we can separate the sentences is with a period. Never underestimate the impact of short, concise sentences. If you want to keep the sentences relatively complex, you can use a semi-colon. A semi-colon is a great tool to use for avoiding comma splices. Another way to fix a run-on is to use both a comma and a conjunction, like ‘and’ or ‘but’. You can employ a variety of techniques, but the important thing to remember is that the two (or more) clauses must connect logically; they cannot merely be stuck together. A clause is a complete and logical thought. It is important to give your thought the credit that it is due, after all, you’ve worked hard on it!