Is this a run-on?

By 1990, it was even easier to make bottles and paper products quickly; as a result, competition among companies grew and stores featured products with increasingly interesting and colorful labels.

Independent clauses: (1) competition among companies grew (2) stores featured products with increasingly interesting and colorful labels

So, is the sentence correct, or should there be a comma before the 'and'?


Pancakes, perhaps the standard American breakfast, are losing a rapidly increasing number of calorie-conscious adherents.

Shouldn't the 'are' be 'is' because 'Pancakes' is singular because one eats pancakes and not a pancake? I don't know. These questions were from the Princeton Review 11 Practice Tests for the SATs book.

Thanks so much.

  • 1
    Most or at least many style books would recommend a comma after grew in your first sentence. As to the second sentence, I would say both plural and singular are OK, because you simply say pancakes are, or treat it like the name of a (single) dish and say pancakes is. Nov 27, 2013 at 22:17
  • Why would one not eat a pancake if one ate only a single one? And why would the fact that one eats pancakes make ‘pancakes’ singular? One also gazes at the stars or picks up the pieces—but surely you'll agree that there are more than one star in the sky, and there'd be little point in picking up the pieces if there were only one piece. Nov 27, 2013 at 22:17
  • Ok, so the first one is a run-on because it needs the comma after grew to seperate the independent clauses? And the second can be either plural or singular?
    – Kat
    Nov 27, 2013 at 22:19
  • @JBJ: In the UK, notional agreement is standard: Bacon and eggs, the traditional English breakfast, is losing a rapidly increasing number of calorie-conscious adherents. Nov 27, 2013 at 22:36
  • As Cerberus notes, there is not a clear answer to pancakes is/are. In these cases, the SAT cannot frame a test item around the concept, because it will not validate.* For the same reason, SAT also rarely tests comma placement except in the case of really egregious errors. "My brother, Tom likes to be called Tommy," or something equally and obviously wrong might show up. The various reviews are often quite helpful, but may be overly strict. Nov 28, 2013 at 0:38

1 Answer 1


First, remove the ";" and create two separate sentences. Semi-colons are rarely used, and most people don't know how to use them properly. The sentence is too long to include a semi-colon, to my belief. Go to How to Use Semicolons for information on usage. Semi-colons can be used to keep your writing from having too many short sentences (not an issue there), to emphasize relatedness, to connect a list when some list items have commas in them, among others.

There should be a comma after "grew." Under most circumstances, unless the clause behind it is very short, there should be a comma before "and." For example, "colorful labels" is short enough to do without a comma. It is generally safe to add a comma if in doubt.

Comma usage rules

"Pancakes" is not singular. You can eat a single pancake. It is generally referred to as pancakes, but that is not the singular form.

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