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Running On and On, Grammatically

Running On and On, Grammatically

By Miss Marm

I've gotten lots of emails recently from Sparklers bemoaning their own run-on sentences. When I read the supposedly offensive sentences, however, they turn out to be plain old long. Sparklers, really long sentences aren't necessarily run-ons. Henry James writes sentences that go on for pages, literally, yet the man never wrote a run-on in his life.

Run-on sentences are two or more independent clauses mooshed together without a punctuation mark or conjunction.

This is a run-on it's two clauses mashed into one.

This isn't a run-on; it's two clauses properly separated by a semicolon.

This isn't a run-on either, because although it unfurls almost endlessly, like a miles-long flag, it's properly punctuated, and while it includes entirely irrelevant asides (such as the fact that I ate a raisin bagel with cream cheese for breakfast), it still does not qualify as a run-on sentence, because punctuation saves the day, much like Mighty Mouse, or some other equally adorable caped savior—in this case, perhaps a caped grammarian whose special powers involve magic red pens.

Leave your long non-run-ons in the comments!

Email me at missmarm@sparknotes.com.

Topics: the rules, run-ons
 

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