H lyanur b lb l first class evening 265585 common sentence errors
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TheDefinition of TheError

A termused in prescriptivegrammarfor an instance of faulty, unconventianal, orcontroversialusage, such as a commaspliceormisplacedmodifier. Comparegrammaticalerrorwithcorrectness.


Comma splices are similar to run-on sentences because they also incorrectly connect independent clauses. A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses are connected with only a comma. As with a run-on sentence, there are a few different ways to correct a comma splice. Consider the following sentence and the revised versions that follow it. 

Comma Splice: My family bakes together nearly every night, we then get to enjoy everything we make together.


  • My family bakes together nearly every night. We then get to enjoy everything we make together.

    The comma splice has been corrected by breaking the sentence into two separate sentences.

  • My family bakes together nearly every night, and we then get to enjoy everything we make together.

    The comma splice has been corrected by adding a coordinating conjunction and a comma.

  • Aftermy family bakes together nearly every night, we get to enjoy everything we make together.

    The comma splice has been corrected by adding a subordinating conjunction and a comma.

  • I gotuplatethismorning. I didn'thave time forbreakfast.


  • I gotuplatethismorning; I didn'thave time forbreakfast.


  • I gotuplatethismorning, so I didn'thave time forbreakfast.


  • I gotuplatethismorning, and I didn'thave time forbreakfast.

Original sentences are in italics. Possible revisions follow. I didn’t like the movie, it was way too long.

Possible revision 1: I didn’t like the movie. It was way too long.

Possible revision 2: I didn’t like the movie because it was way too long.She and Jerry are getting married in the fall, they didn’t want a summer wedding.

Possible revision 1: Because they didn’t want a summer wedding, she and jerry are getting married in the fall.

Possible revision 2: She and Jerry didn’t want a summer wedding, so they are getting married in the fall. 

My favorite bands are all really loud, playing loud music is good for stress relief.

Possible revision 1: My favorite bands are all really loud; playing loud music is good for stress relief.

Possible revision 2: My favorite bands are all really loud because playing loud music is good for stress relief.

A DIFFERENT STRATEGY: Ifyouchoosetoturnone of theclausesinto a subordinate (dependent) clause, thenyou can usejustthecommabetweenthetwoclauses:

BecauseI gotuplatethismorning, I didn'thave time forbreakfast.


1.Thisis myfather, that is myuncle.

2.Somestudentsfindwritingeasy, somefind it excruciatinglydifficult.

3.It'snot a comet, it's a meteor.

4.Wearen'tvisiting Pennsylvania thisyear, we'respendingthesummer in Florida.

5.Yousawthatmovielastnight, didn'tyou?

6.Itlooks as thoughwe're in for a tornado, doesn't it?

7.You'vebeentoEurope, haven'tyou?

8.I didn’tlikethemovie, it waswaytoolong.

9.SheandJerryaregettingmarried in thefall, theydidn’twant a summerwedding.

10.Myfavoritebandsareallreallyloud, playingloudmusic is goodforstressrelief.


(sometimes called a "fused sentence") has at least two parts, either one of which can stand by itself (in other words, two independent clauses), but the two parts have been smooshed together instead of being properly connected. Review, also, the section which describesThings That Can Happen Between Two Independent Clauses.

Run-on sentencesare in italics. Possiblerevisionstosentencesare in parentheses. 

Wewerereallybusy at therestauranttonight. I waitedtablesstraightthroughfrom 3:30 to 11:30 I never sat downforevenone break.

(I waitedtablesstraightthroughfrom 3:30 to 11:30, and I never sat downforevenone break.)Mydog had togotothevettoday. Shecriedandcriedwhentheyclipped her toenails, but thenshewasfinewhentheygave her a shot!Thebookwe had toreadforclasswasreallylongmyteacherdoesn’tseemtounderstandthatwehaveotherclassestoreadfortoo.

(Thebookwe had toreadforclasswasreallylong. Myteacherdoesn’tseemtounderstandthatwehaveotherclassestoreadfortoo.)

Run-On: Thegrocerystorewasreallypackedwithpeopletheremusthavebeen a bigsaletoday.

Correction1: Thegrocerystorewasreallypackedwithpeople. Theremusthavebeen a bigsaletoday.

Here, theerror has beencorrectedbysimplybreakingtherun-on sentenceintotwosentences.

Correction2: Thegrocerystorewasreallypackedwithpeople, sotheremusthavebeen a bigsaletoday.

Inthiscase, thesentence has beencorrectedbyadding a coordinatingconjunctionand a comma. This is a compoundsentence.

Correction3:Becausethegrocerystorewasreallypackedwithpeople, theremusthavebeen a bigsale.

Inthisexample, thesentence has beencorrectedbyadding a subordinatingconjunctionand a comma. This is a complexsentence.

Run-on Sentences:

Adam is a sweet boy he reallylovesanimals.

Adam is a sweet boy, he reallylovesanimals.

Sometimestwosentencesareverycloselyrelated in meaningandfullend-stop punctuationmayseemtoostrong. A semicolon can then be usedtodividethetwosentences. . . .

Run-on: Itwas a beautifuldaytherewas not a cloud in thesky.Correct:Itwas a beautifulday; therewas not a cloud in thesky.

Arun-on sentence can sometimes be preventedbyusing a commaandjoiningword (coordinateconjunction) tojoinsentencestogether.

Wrong: John wenttothemoviesxSuestayedhome.Correct:John wenttothemovies, andSuestayedhome.

"[Anotherwaytocorrect a run-on sentence is to] changetherun-onto a complexsentencebyplacing a subordinatingconjunctionbeforeone of theclauses:

Run-on: I don'tplaytenniswell I have a poorbackhand.Correct:I don'tplaytenniswellbecause I have a poorbackhand.


in sentencesreferstomatchinggrammaticalstructures. Elements in a sentencethathavethesamefunctionorexpresssimilarideasshould be grammaticallyparallel, orgrammaticallymatched. Parallelism is used as a rhetoricalandstylistic device in literature, speeches, advertising, and popular songs.

I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son—Edward GibbonReading is tothemindwhatexercise is tothe body—Joseph AddisonAsk not whatyourcountry can do foryou; ask whatyou can do foryourcountry—John F. Kennedy

Parallelismlendsbalanceandgracetowriting. It can make a sentencememorable. Even in prose not destinedforgreatness, parallelism is important.


A failuretocreategrammaticallyparallelstructureswhentheyareappropriate is referredto as faultyparallelism.Inthefollowingexamples, notethedifferencebetweencorrectparallelstructureandfaultyparallelism.

Whatcountsisn'thowyoulook but howyoubehave. Whatcountsisn'thowyoulook but yourbehavior. 

Thepresidentpromisedtoreformhealthcare, preservesocialsecurity, andbalancethebudget. Thepresidentpromisedtoreformhealthcare, preservesocialsecurity, anda balancedbudget. 

  • Not Parallel: Tomorrow, I want to be shopping and eat lunch with Sarah.

  • Parallel: Tomorrow, I want to shop and eat lunch with Sarah. In this sentence, the verbs to be shopping and eat lunch are the same form. To create parallel structure, the two verbs must be structured in the same form.

  • Not Parallel: Sarah and I always like to shop at specialty shops, shoe stores, and in the home stores.

  • Paralel:Sarah and I always like to shop at specialty shops, in shoe stores, and in home stores.This sentence lacks parallel structure for a couple of reasons. First, specialty shopsandhome stores are both preceded by prepositions (at and in), but shoe stores is not. Additionally, home stores is preceded by an article (the), but specialty shops and shoe stores are not.

  • Not Parallel: The best places to eat are casual, fun, and you can get a meal for cheap.

  • Parallel: The best places to eat are casual, fun, and inexpensive. Here, the sentence is not in parallel structure because the list includes words (casualandfun) and a short phrase (you can get a meal for cheap). A list should only be composed of either words or short phrases, not both.

Parallelstructure in a series

Whenyoursentenceincludes a series,make sure youhave not useddifferentgrammaticalstructuresfortheitems.

He describedskiing in theAlps, swimming in theAdriatic, andthedriveacrosstheSaharaDesert. (faultyparallelism) He describedskiing in theAlps, swimming in theAdriatic, anddrivingacrosstheSaharaDesert. (parallel) 

Intheparallelversion, alltheelements in theseriesbeginwithgerunds: skiing, swimming, driving. Inthenonparallelversion, the final element is a noun but not a gerund.

Theelementswouldremainparallelevenifthephrasesfollowingthegerundswerechangedoromitted. Thelength of theitems in theseriesdoes not affecttheparallelstructure.

He describedskiing, swimming in theAdriatic, anddrivingacrossthedesert. (parallel) 

Itdoesn'tmatterwhatgrammaticalstructureyouchooseforyourseries as long as youkeep it consistent.

Elainelikedtohave a beer, exchangestorieswith her friends, andwatchthe men walkby. (parallel) Elainelikedhaving a beer, exchangingstorieswith her friends, andwatchingthe men walkby. (parallel

Whenyouusewordssuch as to, a, an, his, her, ortheirwithitems in a series, you can usethewordwiththefirstitem, thushaving it applytoalltheitems; oryou can repeat it witheachitem. Ifyouchoosetorepeat it, youmust do sowithalltheitems, not justsome of them.

He likedtheircourage, stamina, andstyle. (parallel) He likedtheircourage, theirstamina, andtheirstyle. (parallel) He likedtheircourage, stamina, andtheirstyle. (not parallel) 

Shesawavan, car, andbicyclecollide. (parallel) Shesawavan, a car, andabicyclecollide. (parallel) Shesawavan, a car, andbicyclecollide. (not parallel) 


Errorsin parallelstructureoftenoccurwithcorrelativeconjunctions:either …or; neither …nor; both …and; not only …but also; whether …or. Thesentencestructurefollowingthesecondhalf of thecorrelativeconjunctionshouldmirrorthesentencestructurefollowingthefirsthalf.

Thescientistsdisputednot onlythenewspaperarticlebut alsotheuniversity'sofficialstatement. (parallel: phrasewithphrase) Thescientistsdisputednot onlythenewspaperarticlebut alsotheydisputedtheuniversity'sofficialstatement. (faultyparallelism: phrasewithclause) 

EitherI likethejoborI don'tlike it. (parallel: clausewithclause) EitherI likethejoborI don't. (parallel: clausewithclause) EitherI likethejobornot. (faultyparallelism: clausewithadverb) 

I haveneitherthepatiencenorthe time tocompletetheassignment. (parallel: nounphrasewithnounphrase)  I haveneitherthepatiencetocompletetheassignmentnor do I havethe time complete it. (faultyparallelism: phrasewithclause) 


Whenyouhavemorethanoneverb in a sentence, be sure tomaketheverbsparallelby not shiftingtensesunnecessarily. Also, don'tshiftfrom an activeto a passiveverb.

Katepreparedthespeech on theplaneanddelivered it at theconference. (parallel: bothverbsareactive) 

Katepreparedthespeech on theplane, and it wasdeliveredby her at theconference. (faultyparallelism: activeverbfollowedbypassiveverb) 

Sometimessentencesuse a singleverb form withtwohelpingverbs. Look at thefollowingexample.

Roberthas in thepastandwill in thefuturecontinuetosupportthemeasure. (incorrect) 

Tosupportbelongswithwillcontinue, but not withhas. Ifyoureadthesentencewithoutandwill in thefuturecontinue, youwillseethis: 

Robert has in thepasttosupportthemeasure. Rewritethesentencetoinclude a participial form forhas.

Robert has in thepastsupported, andwill in thefuturecontinuetosupport, themeasure. 

or Robert has supportedthemeasure in thepast, and he willcontinuetosupport it in thefuture. 


Someof thesentencesbelowarefragments. Playeditor on thesentences. Couldyoutellthesewriterswhythefragmentsareincompletesentences? Also, howwouldyoutellthewriterstofixthem?

  • Then I attendedMorrisJuniorHigh. A juniorhighthatwas a badexperience.

  • Intheseventhgradeeveryyoung boy goesoutforfootball. Toprovetohimselfand his parentsthat he is a man.

  • Sheopenedthedoorandlet us into her home. Not realizing at the time thatwewouldneverenterthatdoor in her homeagain.

  • Makingup his mindquickly. Jimorderedtwodozenredrosesfor his wife. Hopingshewouldaccept his apology.

  • Theywereallhaving a good time. Untilone of Joe'soldestandbestfriends had a littletoomuchtodrink.


Fragmentsentencesare in italics. Explanationsare in parentheses. Then I attendedMorrisJuniorHigh. A juniorhighthatwas a badexperience. (dependentclause)Intheseventhgradeeveryyoung boy goesoutforfootball. Toprovetohimselfand his parentsthat he is a man. (dependentclause)

Sheopenedthedoorandlet us into her home. Not realizing at the time thatwewouldneverenterthatdoor in her homeagain. (dependentclause)Makingup his mindquickly. Jimorderedtwodozenredrosesfor his wife. Hopingshewouldaccept his apology. (dependentclause)Theywereallhaving a good time. Untilone of Joe'soldestandbestfriends had a littletoomuchtodrink. (dependentclause)


Resource: Purdue OWL Engagement

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