Run-on Sentences Exercise (484)

Revise each of the following run-on sentences as needed.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: I don’t understand your memo, could you explain it to me?
Correct : I don’t understand your memo. Could you explain it to me?

The error in this sentence, called a comma splice, in which a comma separates two independent clauses (grammatically complete phrases that stand on their own as separate sentences), is best corrected by replacing the comma with a period. (A semicolon is also acceptable, but a period seems more appropriate here because the clauses are distinct.)

2.
Original: She had one glaring fault she was annoyingly fastidious.
Correct : She had one glaring fault: She was annoyingly fastidious.

Inserting a semicolon after "fault" or starting a new sentence at that point would be technically correct, but because the second half of the sentence is an explanation of the first half, the most appropriate punctuation is a colon. If the clause that follows the colon is independent, its first word should be capitalized.

3.
Original: The committee voted to approve the contract, however, I’m not convinced the decision is wise.
Correct : The committee voted to approve the contract. However, I’m not convinced the decision is wise.

When a transitional word such as "however" (or a phrase like "on the other hand") separates two clauses, a semicolon or a period must precede it.

4.
Original: The plot to assassinate the dictator was troubled from the beginning and its eventual failure was certain once the prime minister was invited to join and his ambition to replace his mentor caused him to make some rash decisions.
Correct : The plot to assassinate the dictator was troubled from the beginning, and its eventual failure was certain once the prime minister was invited to join and his ambition to replace his mentor caused him to make some rash decisions.

When a conjunction (such as "and") separates two independent clauses, unless the sentence is unusually brief (as with "She nodded and that was that") a comma should precede the conjunction. (The phrase beginning with "his ambition" is parallel to "once the prime minister was invited to join," so a comma is not appropriate preceding the "and" between the two phrases.)

5.
Original: I had a falling-out with her she was talking about me behind my back.
Correct : I had a falling-out with her. She was talking about me behind my back.
Alterna.: I had a falling-out with her because she was talking about me behind my back.

Another method for revising a run-on sentence is to introduce a word or phrase (such as "because") to make the second half of the sentence a subordinate clause.

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