Run on or Long Sentence?

I’ve come across many people who believe a run on is a long sentence. And it drives me nuts! That’s not true. A run on can be either short or long. Length doesn’t matter.

A run on is a sentence in which two or more independent clauses (aka completed sentences) are jointed together without the appropriate punctuation or conjunction.

For example: “I threw the ball my dog caught it.” (Run on)

From the example, you can see there are two independent clauses.

Clause 1: I threw the ball.

Clause 2: My dog caught it.


So how do you fix this?

  • Use a period:
      “I threw the ball. My dog caught it.
  • Use a semicolon:
      “I threw the ball; my dog caught it.”
  • Use a comma + coordinating conjunction:
      “I threw the ball, and my dog caught it.”
  • Change the sentence entirely



For the third bullet point, you need both a comma AND a coordinating conjunction.

You can’t leave out the conjunction. “I threw the ball, my dog caught it.” (WRONG! That’s a comma splice)

And you can’t leave out the comma. “I threw the ball and my dog caught it.” (WRONG!)

You need both!


Now that you know what a run on is, please don’t ever call a long sentence a run on ever again. Please and thank you.

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