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The term “run-on sentence” refers to an incorrectly punctuated compound sentence. If two or more independent clauses are joined together with incorrect punctuation (often a comma splice), a run-on sentence results.

For example:

  • The storm blew hard, the shutters banged against the house.
    (Both phrases in this sentences are independent phrases so should either be joined with a semicolon or separated as two sentences)

For more information regarding how to avoid run-on sentences, please refer to The Owl at Purdue: Run-ons - Comma Splices - Fused Sentences.

"Ramble-on Sentences"

The term "run-on sentence" is also sometimes used to refer to a sentence that is exceptionally long and overly wordy; please see Run-On Sentences for more information. Although a sentence might be structured correctly, if the length of the sentence makes it hard to understand, it should be changed. For an example of a grammatically correct (yet still difficult to understand) 239-word sentence, please refer to A Good 200-Word Sentence.

A good way to catch ramble-on sentences is to read the sentence out loud at a pace that someone else could easily understand you. If you're breathing normally and you have to take a breath before the sentence is done, it's likely too long.

To fix a ramble-on sentence, split the sentence into two or more separate sentences. Alternatively, rewrite the sentence using clearer and more concise language.

Example of a ramble-on sentence:

When you write a sentence, it is important to keep in mind that your reader must be able to remember what you said at the beginning of the sentence or else they won’t be able to remember what they are supposed to be thinking about by the time they finish reading the sentence.

Better version:

When you write a sentence, it is important to keep in mind that your reader must be able to remember what you said at the beginning of the sentence. Otherwise, they won’t be able to remember what they are supposed to be thinking about by the time they finish reading the sentence.

Best version:

If a sentence is too long, readers will not remember the point of the message.