0

I have had questions on other boards edited with the reason "remove run on sentence"

but why are they bad I went to one page and the example was

I have a dog his name is George.

The suggested solution was

I have a dog. His name is George.

well I was taught that was wrong as you can't use his in a sentence alone, as a sentence is a standalone construct and we have no idea who "his" is (I have been roundly told my teacher was wrong).

another solution was

I have a dog, and his name is George.

This appears to be a rule without reason, so please what is the reason?


I have read the suggested duplicate ,which has been closed, it is about comma-splice with only a passing nod to run on sentences.

  • 3
    The rule about not using "his" in a sentence alone seems something you've made up or misunderstood, or someone else has made up and told you. Do you have any source for this rule? It's certainly not a generally accepted rule. – Stuart F Feb 10 at 12:16
  • 4
    Does this answer your question? Is it ok to combine two independent clauses into just one sentence? Contains 'Comma splices are considered acceptable by some in passages of spoken (or interior) dialogue and are sometimes used deliberately to emulate spoken language more closely.'. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 10 at 12:19
  • @StuartF my only reference is my secondary school teacher. We were taught so little grammar the little we were taught stuck. – WendyG Feb 10 at 12:22
  • I've got to quote from the duplicate: "Take this sentence, for example: 'It's not a comet, it's a meteor.' According to Wallraff, 'punctuating this sentence with a semicolon would be like using a C-clamp to hold a sandwich together.' " – Edwin Ashworth Feb 10 at 12:30
  • 1
    As to run-on sentences, as others have pointed out by now, they're not bad per se. (Just like nothing really is.) It's a question of style, an arbitrary social construct. (Just like all of writing really.) At this point in time, for this particular language, we happen to agree that this style here is good and that style there is bad. In other languages and/or at other points in time you might find the opposite to be true. Indeed, you might even find yourself having to write everything as a single run-on sentence with no punctuation or spaces whatsoever. – RegDwigнt Feb 10 at 20:32
6

In spoken language we use shorter or longer pauses to break up what we are saying into chunks that allow the listener to follow along comfortably. If you say I have a dog his name is George as one string of words without a pause, you give the listener little time to process each separate thought.

In written language the pauses are represented by punctuation, but they serve the same purpose. And rightly or wrongly, writers who fail to punctuate consecutive independent clauses, as in the dog example, may distract their readers and not be taken seriously. In any case, taking care with punctuation demonstrates courtesy to the reader.

As to what you were taught about not using a possessive pronoun such as his in a standalone sentence, this may be true if you say out of the blue His name is George. But in normal conversation the context will make it clear who the his is referring to (in grammatical terms, its antecedent).

To conclude, it is certainly advisable to avoid writing two or more consecutive independent clauses with no punctuation. You can do this in three ways:

  • By making the second clause into a new sentence
  • By separating the two clauses with a semicolon
  • By inserting a conjunction between the clauses

The term for two consecutive independent clauses separated by a comma (a fourth possible option) is comma splice. Comma splices are generally also considered run-ons and hence to be avoided. There are however circumstances in which a comma splice is not only acceptable but may also be stylistically the best choice.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Adding a parallel to "time to process each separate thought": If I wanted a breakfast of coffee, fruit, and pastry, I would hardly want them mashed into one bowl (the run-on sentence). The separation creates order. – Yosef Baskin Feb 10 at 15:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.