The 2 Easy Ways to Teach Students to Fix Run-On Sentences

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Every teacher has read them and wept…

You know the ones. 

They snake across the page, defying grammar rules and leaving a trail of confusion in their wake. 

Yes, we’re talking about the notorious run-on sentence!

It’s every English teacher’s nightmare: a never-ending string of words that makes everything confusing.

But no worries- today, we’re diving into the chaotic world of run-on sentences to uncover their secrets and learn how to tame these unruly beasts!

What is a Run- On Sentence?

Imagine a sentence that stretches endlessly, much like a snake slithering down your driveway, refusing to stop. 

That’s a run-on sentence—a mishmash of complete thoughts jumbled together without the proper punctuation or pauses.

Run-on sentences consist of two or more independent clauses that have been poorly fused together. They lack the necessary punctuation or conjunctions to separate or connect them into clear, coherent thoughts.

complete sentence (aka an independent clause) is a group of words that express a complete thought with both a subject and a verb that can stand strong on its own. 

Sometimes students mistakenly craft sentences that are far too long to be a complete sentence, inadvertently creating run-ons.

So, how do we teach our kids to fix run-on sentences?

It’s actually easier than you think!

Today, we’re introducing two incredibly simple methods to help 3rd, 4th and 5th graders break down these lengthy sentences into shorter, complete ones. 

Whether they turn into simple or compound sentences, these new complete sentences will be clear and concise.

2 Easy Ways to Teach Students to Fix Run-On Sentences:

1. Bridge the 2 Thoughts with a Comma and Coordinating Conjunction

An easy way to have students correct run-on sentences is to simply add a coordinating conjunction.

Don’t let these big “fancy” words scare your students!

Trust us when we say that the words, coordinating conjunction make this concept seem a lot more complicated than it actually is!

A coordinating conjunction is simply a special word that connects two or more complete thoughts to create a compound sentence. 

Not to mention we have the easiest acronym that will help your kids remember all of the conjunctions!

We use the acronym FANBOYS to teach our kids to remember all of the coordinating conjunction options!

F– for

A– and

N– nor

B– but

O– or

Y– yet

S– so

To change a run-on sentence, have students simply add a comma and a conjunction between the two thoughts.

Here’s an Example:

The large cat chased the mouse it got away.

Now, let’s fix it using this bridge method:

The large cat chased the mouse, but it got away.

By adding the comma and a logical coordinating conjunction, this run-on was fixed quickly.

2. Split Each Complete Thought by Adding Punctuation

The next way is one of the easiest ways to teach students to fix that pesky run-on. 

Simply separate each complete thought with the appropriate ending punctuation. This will make 2 separate sentences that stand on their own.

Here’s an Example of a Run-On Sentence in Which You Could do the Split Strategy:

My homework was done I forgot it at home.

Now, let’s fix it:

My homework was done. I forgot it at home!

By adding the period between the two complete thoughts, the run-on is no longer!

Remember to teach your students about fragments so that they know how to split the sentence properly.

Want More Run-On Sentence Practice?

Are you desperately in need of getting some practice with these 2 strategies into the hands of your students? 

Try these run-on sentence worksheets and activities!

These printable (or digital) worksheets can be easily incorporated into your whole group lesson plans or used for independent work. They not only help students practice the two strategies but also provide lots of opportunities for students to identify run-ons. This way they can find them in their own writing, and then easily fix them!

The best part?

They are already differentiated for you!

For example, one activity has students writing how they know if a sentence is complete or a run-on.

There is a different version of that same worksheet that has multiple choice options for students to choose from.

We love this because you can use the same task, but provide it to students at the level they need.

What other activities and supports are included in the run-on sentence worksheets?

  • Counting the number of complete thoughts in run-on sentences
    • Helps students to truly understand what makes an independent clause

  • Identifying which strategy was used to fix a sentence that’s too long: the bridge or split strategy
    • Develops students’ comprehension of the difference between the two strategies

  • Fill-in-the-blank with a conjunction that makes sense to create a compound sentence
    • Ensures students know how to use each FANBOYS conjunction appropriately

  • Deciding if a group of words is a complete sentence or a run-on
    • Creates a solid understanding of these types of sentences so students can find them in their own writing

  • Fixing run-on sentences at the sentence and paragraph level using the run-on strategies taught: the bridge and split method
    • Opportunity to practice finding and editing run-ons

  • Anchor charts that easily explain the strategies, the FANBOYS acronym plus jargon words like coordinating conjunctions

  • Digital and printable versions of all worksheets!

  • And more!

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