By a Landslide … Fragments and Run-Ons

Guest Post by Jaclyn Dawn

My fellow writer/editor and friend Alison asked, “As an instructor, which grammar errors do you see most often?” The answer came easily: fragments and run-ons.

A sentence needs a subject and a predicate, an actor and an action.

      [Jaclyn] [teaches grammar.]

      [Grammar] [is important.]

If one or the other is missing, you have a fragment.

     [Jaclyn] does what?  

     What [is important]?

These examples are easy, but I will tell you how I trick my students on quizzes. I make the fragments long.

[The brilliant student in the front row who never thought she could be tricked].

I even tricked Microsoft Word with that example because the green, wiggly line didn’t appear under it. What did the brilliant student do?

        Maybe she [looked foolish.]

        Or perhaps she [caught the error.]

Here is another example.

[Singing high praises to the one student of thirty who caught  the error.]

Who? Who is singing the high praises?

            [Jaclyn] [is…] perhaps the one impressed in this example.

            But for all we know [The blue giraffe at the zoo] [is…]

If a sentence has a subject and a predicate, another subject and predicate, and perhaps another subject and predicate without proper punctuation, you have a run-on or the run-on’s cousin, the comma splice.

I like teaching communications and my students are usually eager to learn, but they don’t like grammar, the truth is I have a love-hate relationship with grammar, too.

An independent clause – a subject and a predicate/actor and action – must be divided from other independent clauses.

I like teaching communications. My students are usually eager to learn, but they don’t like grammar. The truth is I have a love-hate relationship with grammar, too.

My theory for why I see so many fragments and run-ons is that writers are trying to write how we speak. The problem is the result can be confusing and just plain ugly on the page.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.