The key difference between sentence fragment and run on is that a sentence fragment is a string of words that cannot form a complete thought on its own while a run on sentence is a sentence that is missing the right punctuation to make the sentence flow properly.
Sentence fragments and run on sentences are two of the most common errors most of us make in our writing. A complete sentence has three main elements: a subject, a predicate and a complete thought (ability to stand alone). Recognizing these elements is the first step in learning to identify sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is a Sentence Fragment
3. What is a Run On
4. Similarities Between Sentence Fragment and Run On
5. Side by Side Comparison – Sentence Fragment vs Run On in Tabular Form
What is a Sentence Fragment?
A sentence fragment is another name for an incomplete sentence. In fact, this is not actually a sentence, but only a string of words. This is because a sentence fragment cannot convey a complete thought as a necessary component of the sentence is missing. For example,
Since I saw her at the library.
The boy sitting on the floor, wearing a blue t-shirt.
And told me to go.
Students very busy at the end of the semester.
We had just begun to have our dinner. When he came running in.
The above examples are incomplete because they are missing one or more core elements of a sentence. Read them again and observe whether they have a subject, predicate and whether they are able to convey a complete thought.
Furthermore, most English learners make the mistake of using sentence fragments when they use dependent clauses. This is because dependent clauses have both a subject and a predicate, and look like complete sentences. However, they don’t express a complete thought and can’t stand alone. For example,
Because I told her to leave me.
It’s the subordinating conjunction at the beginning that makes this sentence a dependent clause and an incomplete sentence. If you want to correct this sentence, you can either remove the subordinating conjunction (I told her to leave me) or add an independent clause to complete the sentence (She left because I told her to leave me).
What is a Run On?
A run on sentence or a fused sentence is a sentence that is missing right punctuation to make the sentence flow properly. In other words, we make run on sentences when we put two or more complete sentences together in one sentence without separating them properly. For instance,
She was in an accident her left leg was injured.
The above example has two complete thoughts or two independent clauses. They cannot occur in the same sentence without proper punctuation or proper conjunctions. You can correct the above run on either as:
- She was in an accident. Her left leg was injured.
- She was in an accident, and her left leg was injured.
A comma splice is a very common type of a run on sentence. This error occurs when you combine two independent clauses with commas.
Some students ran out of the gates, the teachers ran after them.
You can correct the above sentence by writing the two independent clauses as two separate clauses or by using a matching coordinating conjunction.
In addition, comma splices also occur when you try to use a transitional expression in the middle of a sentence without using proper punctuation. For example,
In euchromatin, the DNA is loosely wrapped hence, the genes in the euchromatic regions are actively expressed.
The correct way to write the above sentence is:
In euchromatin, the DNA is loosely wrapped; hence, the genes in the euchromatic regions are actively expressed.
What is the Similarity Between Sentence Fragment and Run On?
- Both are errors in language, and you should always try to avoid them in writing.
What is the Difference Between Sentence Fragment and Run On?
A sentence fragment is a string of words that cannot convey a complete thought whereas a run on sentence is a sentence that occurs when two or more independent clauses connect improperly. From this definition, one can understand the key difference between sentence fragment and run on. Stemming from the above, the other notable difference between sentence fragment and run on is that a sentence fragment does not have an independent clause whereas a run on sentence has more than one independent clause.
In addition, the former is missing subject or predicate, and/or is unable to convey a complete thought whereas the latter has subjects, predicates and is able to convey a complete thought. Finally, while sentence fragments mainly associate with missing words and dependent clauses, run on sentence mainly associates with improper punctuation. Hence, this is also a significant difference between sentence fragment and run on.
The below infographic tabulates the difference between sentence fragment and run on for quick reference.
Summary – Sentence Fragment vs Run On
Sentence fragments and run on sentences are language errors we all should try to avoid. A sentence fragment is a string of words that cannot convey a complete thought while a run on sentence is a sentence that occurs when two or more independent clauses are connected improperly. Therefore, this is the key difference between sentence fragment and run on.
1.”1870721″ by 3844328 (CC0) via pixabay
2.”1209121″ by Free-Photos (CC0) via pixabay
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