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  • Writer's pictureJaclyn Lawrence

By a Landslide… Fragments and Run-Ons

Updated: Oct 5, 2022

If you ask me, “Which grammar errors do you see most often?”

The answer is easy: fragments and run-ons.

A sentence needs a subject and a predicate, an actor and an action.

[Jaclyn] [teaches grammar.]

[Grammar] [is important.]

If one or the other is missing, you have a fragment.

[Jaclyn] does what?

What? [is important.]

These examples are easy, but I will tell you how I trick my students on quizzes. I make the fragments long.

[The brilliant student in the front row who never thought she could be tricked].

I even tricked Microsoft Word with that example because the green, wiggly line didn’t appear under it.

What did the brilliant student do?

Maybe she [looked foolish.]

Or perhaps she [caught the error.]

Here is another example.

[Singing high praises to the one student of thirty who caught the error.]

Who? Who is singing the high praises?

[Jaclyn] [is…] perhaps the one impressed in this example.

But for all we know [The blue giraffe at the zoo] [is…]

If a sentence has a subject and a predicate, another subject and predicate, and perhaps another subject and predicate without proper punctuation, you have a run-on or the run-on’s cousin, the comma splice.

I like teaching communications and my students are usually eager to learn, but they don’t like grammar, the truth is I have a love-hate relationship with grammar, too.

An independent clause – a subject and a predicate/actor and action – must be divided from other independent clauses.

I like teaching communications. My students are usually eager to learn, but they don’t like grammar[period.] The truth is I have a love-hate relationship with grammar, too.

My theory for why I see so many fragments and run-ons is that writers are trying to write how we speak. The problem is the result can be confusing and just plain ugly on the page.

We never want to confuse our readers, so take a few minutes to review your writing and stop the landslide of fragment and run-on sentences.


Originally posted as a blog for Sandy Tree Communications. Reposted with permission.

Jaclyn is a great grammar teacher. If your team needs to brush up on or learn more about grammar she would love to run a class just for you. We are confident that our grammar and writing classes will help your team communicate more clearly. You can read Jaclyn's debut novel The Inquirer now in bookstores or online at

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