View Full Version : Run on sentences are not bad, I say.

Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum

Pages : [1] 2

December 17th, 2004, 09:53 AM
Some great threads in here lately on passive voice and use of verbs but what about this old chestnut?

I have had some invaluable feedback from the likes of Grammar Nazi Sheep lately and as a result I have nailed most of my problems.

However, run on sentences still plague my writing. Often, when they are pointed out to me I scream (or type as the case may be) WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT!!!

So, gimme examples of the good the bad and the ugly.


December 17th, 2004, 10:33 AM
The sort of run-on sentence that is most plaguing for mature writers is the comma splice, sometimes they fit very well stylistically but they're still run-ons.

But I say, who cares, if the writer knows his craft and chooses to use them for effect? ( as in my first sentence, above)

December 17th, 2004, 10:57 AM
You articulated that perfectly Eldanuumea lol, and may I say how charming you are as always.

December 17th, 2004, 11:02 AM
Run-on sentences? Think I know what you mean but could you give some examples? Cheers. :)

December 17th, 2004, 11:49 AM
From how I understand it, a run on sentence is two complete thoughts that are not separated by a hard stop such as a period or a colon. Given that definition, I'm not sure that I would be able to spot them all the time too.

As Eldanuumea said, the most common variety is a comma splice, which is where a comma is used to separate the two independent thoughts as opposed to a period (that was a run-on sentence). In the above example, the comma after 'splice' is used to transition to a new sentence that has the phrase 'comma splice' as its subject.

There are other forms which basically use conjuctions to continue the sentence past where the original thought ends and these styles of sentences are much harder to find because many sentences use conjunctions to group items or put qualifiers on certain thoughts. (that was a run-on sentence)

In the above example, the 'and' after the word 'ends' an be replaced with a period. This will break it into 2 sentences without changing the meaning. Furthermore, it's possible to replace 'because' with another period making it into three sentences that convey the say idea.

December 17th, 2004, 02:24 PM
I can't recall ever being put off by a run-on sentence. Franz Kafka occasionally has sentences that run over pages, and he's one of my fave authors.

Air warm on his cheeks, a relief after months of winter, the sky's blue speckled with the fluffy white of clouds; it would have been perfect, the arrival of spring, the renewal of life, little beasties breeding, and all those pretty blossoms on all those pretty trees, and that was the catch, wasn't it, the reproduction cycle of the plants, the air full of tiny, invisible pollen, penetrating eyes and nose and... atishoo... there he goes again.

How many sentences should this be?

Punctuation provides a clue as to how a text can be read. The way I've written the scene above, it's designed to be read quickly, with minimal breathing in between ideas, not entirely serious. Breaking this up into sentences would, no doubt, make it easier to read, i.e. the content would be easier to follow. But individual points would probably receive more emphasis. It's the compartmentalisation of a text, in a way.

Again, it's about style. The tidier the mind, the shorter the sentences. (Up to a point... Fragmentation lies at the other end of the spectrum...)

ironchef texmex
December 17th, 2004, 09:21 PM
I can't recall ever being put off by a run-on sentence. Franz Kafka occasionally has sentences that run over pages, and he's one of my fave authors.

78 words? 78 words and you call that a run-on? Bah! Thomas Pynchon laughs at your so-called run on. Here's one of Pynchon's little sentence creations. It weighs in at a svelte 270 words.

Maybe to excess: how could he not seeing people poorer than him come in, Negro, Mexican, cracker, a parade seven days a week, bringing the most god-awful of trade-ins: motorized, metal extensions of themselves, of their families and what their whole lives must be like, out there so naked for anybody, a stranger like himself, to look at, frame cockeyed, rusty underneath, fender repainted in a shade just off enough to depress the value, if not Mucho himself, inside smelling hopelessly of children, supermarket booze, two, sometimes three generations of smokers, or only of dust -- and when the cars were swept out you had to look at the actual residue of these lives, and there was no way of telling what things had been truly refused (when so little he supposed came by that out of fear most of it had to be taken and kept) and had simply, perhaps tragically, been lost: clipped coupons promising savings of 5 or 10 cents, trading stamps, pink flyers advertising specials at the markets, butts, tooth-shy combs, help-wanted ads, Yellow pages torn from the phone book, rags of old underwear or dresses that already were period costumes, for wiping your own breath off the inside of a windshield with so you could see whatever it was, a movie, a woman or car you coveted, a cop who might pull you over just for drill, all the bits and pieces coated uniformly, like a salad of despair, in a gray dressing of ash, condensed exhaust, dust, body wastes -- it made him sick to look, but he had to look.

I'd go on about how sentences can be as long -- and compress within them as many connections -- as the author wishes, but after cranking out that monster my hands hurts too bad.

Just remember Juzza, the next time someone gets on you about sentence length, you tell them that Pynchon says that anything under forty words is a fragment. ;)

December 17th, 2004, 11:40 PM
All I have to say about run-on sentences... If it flows, it doesn't matter.

I have written a whole paragraph in a single sentence without realizing it, but it worked (according to me, and an english professor ;)). I am not the only one though! Hemingway LOVED the run-ons...

Like I said, as long as you can keep the flow moving right, then I have no problems with the length of a sentence or the number of sentences in a sentece. Hmmm...

December 18th, 2004, 01:00 AM
Kinda funny run-on sentences are brought up. There's actually a sentence starter contest for the longest starting sentence that's grammatically correct and builds up the begining of a story. :)

My take on 'em is just like everything else we've talked about lately and this is run-on-sentences, in moderation, can be used wisely to enhance your prose and convey an idea in a manner not done by a simple, short sentence ever could -- not saying that a short sentence couldn't do the same as a long sentence -- yet they still need to be monitored to ensure they still get one solid thought across and don't drone on for no apparent reason.

December 18th, 2004, 10:24 AM
Oh and another thing, long run-on sentences actually convey a type of speech (the frantic rambling) so that's another reason to use them. Short choppy sentences aren't good either though, so don't think that's the way to fix it.

Like Maus said - Moderation. Everything can work as long as you aren't trying to make it work ten times in a row.