• Valerie Higgins — IELTS Grader

How to Keep Your Sentences from Running Away from You

Updated: Aug 30

Learn these great tips and tricks about run-on-sentences!


Run, run, run! You found the perfect supporting detail for the IELTS writing task 2 prompt, your fingers are flying, your brain is going a mile a minute…but are you chasing the perfect sentence, or is that sentence chasing you?

According to Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, run-on sentences are multiple sentences connected together with no punctuation separating them. Run-on sentences are an easy trap to fall into, especially in 40 short minutes you have on practice exams, and worse, on exam day itself. Luckily for you, IELTS Grader can help you prepare for and prevent those tricky errors from the comfort of your own home!



Ok, but how do I know if my sentences are run-ons?


In this post I want to explain to you how to find these errors which can make your essay confusing using some tips and tricks to improve your writing score because I want you to get a band score of 9.

Did I lose you?

When writing your essay, take a second to think about the number of details or ideas you are trying to convey with your sentence. In the example sentence above, I make a couple of different points — that I want to help you find errors, that errors make writing confusing, and that I want you to get a top mark. Phew, that’s a lot of information for one sentence!



How do I organize my ideas?


Let’s see how we can separate out the ideas from my example sentence above using the punctuation it’s missing!

Prepositional Phrases

If you want to start a sentence with a prepositional phrase, make sure to insert a comma at the end of that phrase, to separate it from the main body of the sentence:

“In this post, I want to explain to you how to find these errors which can make your essay confusing using some tips and tricks to improve your writing score because I want you to get a band score of 9.”


Appositive Phrases

Appositive phrases are used to provide extra tidbits of information about nouns in your sentences. In my example, the appositive phrase is: “which can make your essay confusing;” you don’t need to know that errors make your essay more confusing, you already knew that! However, having that extra information in my sentence provides a little more context about how errors can affect your writing. Appositive phrases should always be enclosed in commas, to separate them from the main clause:

“In this post, I want to explain to you how to find these errors, which can make your essay confusing, using some tips and tricks to improve your writing score because I want you to get a band score of 9.”

Separating Two Main Clauses

As we mentioned above, we have three different ideas sandwiched into my one long example sentence — that I want to help you find errors, that errors make writing confusing, and that I want you to get a top mark. Two of these ideas look more closely related than the others, namely finding errors and that errors are confusing. Actually, we already proved that these two ideas are related when we talked about appositive phrases above! Because they are related, we should keep them together when we separate our main clauses.

Now, let’s break my example into two chunks, based on the main ideas we just identified — “In this post, I want to explain to you how to find these errors, which can make your essay confusing, using some tips and tricks to improve your writing score” and “because I want you to get a band score of 9.”


Option 1


The first sentence chunk, which talks about errors, only needs punctuation at the end to make it a stand-alone sentence; we already fixed the other errors in the sentence. So, let’s add a period to the end!

“In this post, I want to explain to you how to find these errors, which can make your essay confusing, using some tips and tricks to improve your writing score.


The second chunk, however, is not yet ready to be its own sentence; we have one more adjustment to make. This chunk starts with the word ‘because.’ ‘Because’ is a subordinating conjunction, meaning that it introduces a dependent clause. Dependent clauses are appropriately named, as they depend on the main clause of the sentence for their meaning and can’t be independent sentences on their own. In order to make this second chunk a stand-alone sentence, we’ll simply remove the word ‘because’ from the beginning of the clause, leaving us with "I want you to get a band score of 9.” Now this is a sentence that can stand on its own!


To finish dividing our main ideas into two sentences, all we need to do is put our newly error-free sentences side-by-side:

“In this post, I want to explain to you how to find these errors, which can make your essay confusing, using some tips and tricks to improve your writing score. I want you to get a band score of 9.”

Ta-da!


Option 2


Another way to combine these two sentences is with a semicolon (;). Semicolons are used to connect two sentences that contain similar ideas, in order to form a larger sentence. Because our main ideas — errors and getting a good mark — are so similar, our two sentences can be combined grammatically with a semicolon. To create this longer sentence from the result of Option 1, all we need to do is replaced the period at the end of “improve your writing score.” with a semicolon:

“In this post, I want to explain to you how to find these errors, which can make your essay confusing, using some tips and tricks to improve your writing score; I want you to get a band score of 9.”


Congratulations, you now know some stellar tips on how to fix those pesky run-on sentences! Now, put your skills to the test by practicing any task 2 prompt from IELTS Grader’s online bank. Your sentences may be running, but with the help of IELTS Grader, you can run faster!

269 views1 comment

U.S Office Address​

400 Totten Pond Road. Suite #201

Waltham, MA 02451 

India Office Address

7, 701, Global Square Realty,

Near Bombay Sappers,

Yerwada, Pune, Maharashtra

411006

Disclaimer: Intelligent Machines Lab, and its IELTS Grader product, are not endorsed by The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the British Council, Cambridge Assessment English, or IDP. Intelligent Machines Lab does not make any guarantees on the results of your exam.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

© 2020 by Intelligent Machines Lab, Inc.