Learn more about Hanover's response to COVID-19.


Writing Program

Grammar Monsters

Dominique Battles, English 

Beasts of Writing: 
Run-ons, Comma Splices, Sentence Fragments 

Most grammatical errors in college papers involve commas. Either there is no comma where there should be one, or there is a comma where shouldn't be one. While the thought of revisiting the beastly grammar lessons of high school may make you think of running for your life, there are really only three beasts you need to worry about. Taming them is not that difficult, and by the end of this handout, you will be well on your way to being an expert writing-monster-tamer. You'll see. 

Identifying the Beasts: 

1. Run-on Sentence (a.k.a. a fused sentence):

Two sentences that should stand alone are joined together as a single sentence without any punctuation. Thus, we cannot see clearly where one sentence ends and the other begins. 

Example: This handout looks extremely boring I would much rather be doing something else. 

2. Comma Splice:

Two sentences joined together with a comma where a period should go. Again, we cannot see clearly where one sentence ends and the next one begins. 

Example:

  • This handout looks extremely boring, I would much rather be doing something else. 

3. Sentence Fragment:

  • An incomplete sentence. A sentence must have a subject and a verb, and must express a complete thought. These sentences leave out the subject and do not express a complete thought. 

Examples:

  • Trying desperately to get through this handout. 
  • Bored beyond belief and hungry. 

Taming Those Beasts

1. Run-on Sentences and Comma Splices can be tamed by: 

a. Separating the two sentences with a period.
Example: This handout looks extremely boring. I would much rather be doing something else. 

b. Separating the two sentences with a semi-colon. 

Example: This handout looks extremely boring; I would much rather be doing something else. 

c. Coordination: Joining the two sentences with a comma and an and. 

Example: This handout looks extremely boring, and I would much rather be doing something else.

d. Using subordination:
When we subordinate one main clause to another, we focus the reader's attention on the idea contained in the main       clause. 

Example: Since this handout looks extremely boring, I would much rather be doing something else. [This sentence   emphasizes you wanting to do something else, and the first clause about the boring handout is subordinate to the second (or main) clause.]
Or 

Example: I would much rather be doing something else, since this handout looks extremely boring. [This sentence emphasizes the boring handout, and the first clause about you wanting to do something else is subordinate to the second (or main) clause.] 

2. Sentence Fragments can be fixed by attaching another clause onto the fragment. Usually, that additional clause can be found before or after the fragment. 

Example: Trying desperately to get through this handout. I made it to the end. 

Corrected Version: Trying desperately to get through this handout, I made it to the end. 

Example: Bored beyond belief and hungry. I made it through this handout. 

Corrected Version: Bored beyond belief and hungry, I made it through this handout. 

Exercises with Writing Beasts: 

1. Write three comma splices of your own. 

2. Write three run-on sentences of your own. 

3. Write three sentence fragments of your own. 

4. Fix them using the techniques above.