How to identify and eventually avoid a run on sentence in my paper?

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How to identify and eventually avoid a run on sentence in my paper?

Julia, SLC Writing Tutor
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Re: How to identify and eventually avoid a run on sentence in my paper?

Kevin, SLC Writing Tutor
My favorite way to show this is to avoid using more than two or three commas in a sentence. To clarify a bit, these commas are dividing sentences that can stand on their own.

Examples:
I went to the store with my mom, but I did not enjoy the trip because my left rear tire exploded sending rubber everywhere, which scratched up my car and dinged it badly, causing me to spend thousands of dollars to fix it.      

That is a very long run-on sentence. Notice how it has three commas separating major, independent clauses and one already complex sentence (But I did not enjoy the trip because my left rear tire exploded sending rubber everywhere). Note: The word because in this complex sentence acts as a comma in regard to my above-mentioned rules.

So, a good way to change this sentence would be as such:
I went to the story with my mom, but I did not enjoy the trip. While driving, my left rear tire exploded sending rubber everywhere, which scratched up my car and dinged it badly. This caused me to spend thousands of dollars to fix.

Notice how I had to add some extra words so that the sentence stood on their own a little bit better. There is nothing wrong with this. Often times run-on sentences occur because when we think we don't think with punctuation, so the ideas flow together into very long thoughts. When we write, we need to clarify some of these statements, which often takes extra writing and explaining.

Also, shorter sentences are better than longer sentences. There is a tendency for inexperienced writers to feel the need to expand all their ideas into long, increasingly complicated sentences. This isn't needed. Short sentences can provide extra emphasis on specific ideas and improve the quality of your writing. Remember, shorter sentences without errors are better than longer sentences that run on forever.
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