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Run, Run-on Rudolph!

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Soooo, as you noticed we (I) missed #wwat Wednesday, BUT don’t worry; it’s Christmas Eve, and we’re here! Notice what I did there? Independent clauses…lots of them and not the Santa kind. All joined with proper punctuation.  But if I hadn’t? Bad things would happen. Well, actually, nothing would happen. It would just be incorrect, and that’s the thing with run-on sentences. Really, in the grand literary scheme of things, nothing horribly bad happens–meaning no misunderstandings usually happen. Let’s look at a few different examples.

  1. Example one: I bought my wife a necklace for Christmas she really liked it.
    This in the truest, is a run-on sentence. It’s two independent clauses (each having a subject and a verb). Both clauses are separated by nothing.  In order to fix this travesty in the grammar world, you would have to insert a comma AND an appropriate conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, yet, or so) in between Christmas and she. If you just inserted the conjunction without the comma? Well, if you lived on this side of the pond (USA), it would be wrong. Cheeky Brits only need insert an appropriate conjunction. What if you only inserted a comma…?
  2. Example two: She thought the necklace was amazing, she gave me a smooch. This, dear friends, is known as a comma splice. Two independent clauses separated only by a comma. No bueno. Can you still understand it? Most likely. But in order to be in the good graces of the grammar gods, one must do what one must do.
  3. Example three: Not really an example but three more ways to fix run-ons like these. Her smooch was amazing it was the best Christmas gift. As mentioned above, this can be fixed:

 

  • With a comma and an appropriate conjunction.
  • OR by simply placing a period in between amazing and it and capitalizing the “I” in it.
  • OR by using a semi-colon in the correct place. Now semi-colons are usually the snooty neighbor that you only invite to the holiday party when you want to show people how uppity you are. They also have a fairly specific usage–two independent clauses that don’t warrant a complete stop by using a period and would more effectively benefit from merely just a pause. When using one, you usually draw attention to it–not good as it may draw a reader out of the story.

 

So that pretty much sums up run-ons, and as I said before, (in my opinion) they don’t usually mess with a reader’s understanding, not as much as excluding the oxford comma can, but in order to show that you know what you’re doing, it’s best to do them right. Further, it’s almost never acceptable to use a run-on as a literary device. NOW, fragments, on the other hand, CAN be used for literary purposes. In the opening paragraph, I used several of them. Fragments can be used effectively to convey short choppy thoughts in a character or to emphasize a point. I suppose run-ons could be used to convey a stream of consciousness–where a character’s thoughts supersede his or her ability to process such thoughts, but I can’t really think of any literary examples. If you think of any, please let us know, and Happy Holidays from the WWAT crew!

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