Combined Fragments, Run-ons, and Comma Splices S-1

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1 Definition: What is a fragment? A fragment is an incomplete sentence. It does not express a complete thought. A group of words must not depend on the sentence before it or after it to provide a complete idea. What is a run-on? A run-on is two or more sentences written as one with no punctuation between the two sentences. They join too much information, usually two independent clauses, without a conjunction or correct punctuation. What is a comma splice? A comma splice is two sentences written with a comma separating the two sentences. A comma by itself cannot join two sentences. Doing so creates a comma splice. Note: The only difference between a fused sentence and a commas splice is the location, or lack of a comma. FRAGMENTS OCCUR IN WRITING WHEN WORD GROUPS ARE INCOMPLETE. Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 1

2 Examples: 1. Managed the team. (This group of words does not have a subject.) Pop managed the team. (Pop is the subject and managed is the verb and the words work together to make a complete thought. They work together to make a sentence. 2. Pop managing the team. (This group of words may have a subject, Pop; however, an ing verb cannot stand alone.) Pop is managing the team. (Pop is the subject; is managing is the verb, and all the words work together to make a sentence.) 3. As I spoke to the class of students. (This group of words is a dependent clause, and only an independent clause makes a complete thought.) As I spoke to the class of students, John continued to write. (Now that dependent clause has been attached to an independent clause, so we have a sentence.) Run-on The boy was walking to the store it is where he was buying milk for his mother. (There are too many thoughts in this sentence. One thought relates to the boy walking to the store. The other thought relates to him buying milk. It would be easier for the reader if the thoughts were divided into two complete sentences.) They said we should sing, dance, and then we decided to go to the mall. Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 2

3 (Again, the sentence relates to the group singing, dancing. Suddenly, the thought changes to the group deciding to go to the mall. There are too many thoughts in one sentence.) Comma Splice The woman was sitting at the computer, the computer was not working. (In this sentence, the author tries to incorporate two complete thoughts in one sentence using a comma.) I was in the classroom, the room had twenty computers which were not functioning. (Again, in this sentence, there are two complete thoughts separated by a comma.) Techniques for repairing Fragments, Run-ons, and Comma Splices Fragments: When writing, you want the reader to understand your main point. Choppy sentences confuse the reader. Phrases beginning with subordinating conjunctions are considered fragments. Below is a list of commonly used subordinating conjunctions. after although as as if as soon as as though because before even though how however if that though provided that since Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 3

4 so that unless until what when whenever where wherever which while who whoever why Solution 1: Join the dependent clause fragment with an independent clause. Example: When I was walking. There was a big dog in the street. Solution: When I was walking, there was a big dog in the street. Example: Once upon a time. The boss was very mean. Solution: Once upon a time, the boss was very mean. Solution 2: Omit the subordinating conjunction. Example: If I was in the mall. I wanted to shop at the Discovery Store. Solution: I was in the mall. I wanted to shop at the Discovery Store. Example: When I was going to school. I tripped on a small dog. Solution: I was going to school. I tripped on a small dog. In both of the sentences, we eliminated the coordinating conjunction to avoid having a fragment. Run-ons: Run-on sentences confuse the reader because they contain too much information. Place a period after each independent clause and capitalize the first letter in each clause. Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 4

5 Example: The Officer was driving he saw a black dog running across the street the kids were playing in the field where the gardener was raking the lawn. There are too many thoughts in one sentence. (Officer driving, black dog running, kids playing, gardener raking) Solution: The Officer was driving. He saw a black dog running across the street. The kids were playing in the field where the gardener was raking the lawn. Example: The woman was walking the man stood up and walked to the printer it was not working. Solution: The woman was walking. The man stood up and walked to the printer. It was not working. Make the sentence compound. There are two ways in which to do this. a. Connect the two independent clauses using a comma and a coordinating conjunction (remember FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). Example: English is a required course in most colleges, and a student must pass it before he earns his degree. b. Connect the two independent clauses with a semicolon. A semicolon is a Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 5

6 stronger mark of punctuation than a comma. Example: English is a required course in most colleges; a student must pass it before he earns his degree. Remember that after the semicolon, the second independent clause begins with a small, not capital, letter. In either of these two methods of correction, you may want to add a transitional word to show the relationship between the two clauses. Example: English is a required subject in most colleges; therefore, a student must pass it before he earns his degree. Rewrite the sentence as a complex sentence. This change requires the addition of subordinating conjunction to transform one of the independent clauses into a dependent clause. EXAMPLE: Because English is a required course, a student must pass it before he earns his degree. Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 6

7 Comma Splice: A comma by itself cannot join two sentences. Doing so creates a comma splice. Incorrect Example: The clouds created a dark sky, the rain began to fall. 1. One way to correct a comma splice is to write the information as two sentences. Correct Example: The clouds created a dark sky. The rain began to fall. 2. Another way to correct a comma splice would be to use a comma along with a coordinating conjunction. There are seven coordinating conjunctions whose first letters form the acronym FANBOYS: For And Nor But Or Yet So Correct Example: The clouds created a dark sky, and the rain began to fall. 3. A third option to correct the comma splice is to use a semi-colon. This punctuation joins what could be two sentences. Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 7

8 Correct Example: The clouds created a dark sky; the rain began to fall. CHECK TO SEE WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED! FRAGMENTS PRACTICE EXERCISE 1: 1. Once upon a time. 2. There were two wonderful people. 3. Who were very much in love. 4. And planning to get married. 5. Enough is enough. 6. The next few groups of words should deal with a new subject. 7. Once upon a midnight clear. 8. Just behind the dearest deer. 9. I saw the most beautiful sight. 10. A covey of birds in wondrous flight. Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 8

9 PRACTICE EXERCISE: Indicate whether the following sentences are correct by placing a C in the blank or incorrect by placing an I in the blank. Circle the error and indicate how it could be corrected. COMMA SPLICES 1. Louise has many problems, one of them is her poor grammar. 2. Michael is very involved in sports, and football is his favorite. 3. Dancing is an enjoyable activity, it is very relaxing. 4. Making new friends can be very difficult, therefore, one should meet as many people as possible. 5. Commercials are very boring, the number of them shown during a thirty minute program should be reduced. SENTENCE FRAGMENTS 6. Before giving up, first try to explore your options. Which are many. 7. On my way to work today the man jogging along the road. 8. The man on the corner discovered he had to cross the street at his own risk. Since there was not a crossing guard or a crossing light. 9. During the night in the middle of August on the hottest evening of the season. 10. Because he had no one to talk to, Chris sat alone and cried. RUN-ONS: 11. My sister is the worst tennis player in the world because she does not practice or Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 9

10 concentrate on the game. 12. When Duane could not find his keys, he searched everywhere he could think he might have lost them he was really embarrassed when he found them in his pocket. 13. She lost her job because she was never on time, and she did not fully understand how to perform her duties. 14. Dancing is my favorite form of recreation swimming is my second. 15. He can never seem to understand directions he always confuses east and west and north and south. 16. Janice loves her job even though her boss is not very nice she plans to work hard in hopes of a promotion. 17. Bob got soaking wet while walking in the rain he forgot his umbrella. 18. The guests stayed until midnight even though the party was supposed to be over at ten they were having too much fun to leave. 19. While on a shopping spree at a local mall, Louise lost her purse, and she got a parking ticket. 20. Once while hiking in the woods Marcus found an injured baby bird he took it home and nursed it back to health and then released it back into the wild. COMMA SPLICES AND RUN-ONS PRACTICE EXERCISE 1: Correct the errors by adding a period (and capital), or a semicolon (no capital), or a comma and a conjunction (no capital). Remember that a comma alone will not do the job. Do not take out any words. Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 10

11 1. Every company demands certain things from its employees this one insists that they do a full day's work. 2. My bedroom's walls are very uneven they form odd angles which make hanging wallpaper a difficult task. 3. Alaska is usually terribly cold, however, it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. 4. My neighbor talks about me behind my back then, when she sees me on the street, she puts on a big smile and gives me a friendly greeting. 5. My block is in a low crime area, the trouble we have we create ourselves. 6. In order to study well students must be able to concentrate for example, it's hard to pay attention while the television is showing a loud, action program. 7. He left the pastry shop early then at noon he took the ferry to San Francisco. 8. There were some cars in the parking lot, one of them was mine. 9. Arranging a surprise party is hard you have to remember that people can unthinkingly give the secret away to the guest of honor. ANSWERS TO PRACTICE EXERCISES Fragments Practice Exercise 1: 1. F 6. S 2. S 7. F 3. F 8. F Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 11

12 4. F 9. S 5. S 10. F COMMA SPLICES, FRAGMENTS, AND RUN-ONS PRACTICE EXERCISE: 1. I Two complete sentences cannot be joined with only a comma. 2. C 3. I Two complete sentences cannot be joined with only a comma. 4. I Use ;therefore, because it joins two complete sentences. 5. I Two complete sentences cannot be joined with only a comma. 6. I which are many is a sentence fragment. 7. I It is a sentence fragment. 8. I Since...light is a subordinate clause, not a sentence. 9. I It is just a string of prepositional phrases. 10. C 11. C 12. I them; he or them. He 13. C 14. I recreation; swimming or recreation. Swimming or recreation, and swimming 15. I directions; he or directions. He or directions because he Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 12

13 16. I job. Even though...nice, she 17. I rain; he or rain. He or rain because he 18. I midnight. Even though...at ten, they 19. C 20. I once... woods, Marcus... bird. He COMMA SPLICES AND RUN-ONS PRACTICE EXERCISE 1: 1. employees. This employees, and this employees; this 2. uneven. They uneven, so they uneven; they 3. cold; however 4. back. Then back, and then back; then 5. area. The area, but the area; the 6. concentrate; for 7. early. Then Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 13

14 early, and then early; then 8. lot. One lot, and one lot; one 9. hard. You hard, and you hard; you Copyright Florida State College at Jacksonville. All Rights Reserved. 14

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