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Test PrepACTEnglishRun-ons & Fragments

ACT English Skill Review: Run-ons & Fragments

Run-on sentences and sentence fragments are two extremes—one does too much while the other does too little. Both are problematic.

Run-on Sentences

There are two types of run-on sentences to discuss. The first is called a comma splice. It occurs when you have two whole sentences stuck together with only a comma in between them. For example: I'm starving, I hope we can eat soon. The comma is not strong enough to hold the two sentences together. This can be corrected in one of four ways:

  • Adding a coordinating conjunction, i.e., I'm starving, so I hope we can eat soon.
  • Changing the comma to a semicolon, i.e., I'm starving; I hope we can eat soon.
  • Creating two separate sentences, i.e., I'm starving. I hope we can eat soon.
  • Rewording the whole thing, i.e., I hope we can eat soon because I'm starving.
The second type of run-on sentence occurs when you have two whole sentences (or even more than two) stuck together with absolutely no punctuation in between them. This is what most people think of when they think of a run-on sentence. For example: I'm starving I hope we can eat soon. You can correct this type of run-on sentence the same way you correct the comma splice.

Sentence Fragments

A sentence fragment is a sentence that isn't complete. In order to be complete, a sentence must be a full thought with a subject and a verb. Beware of sentences that start with subordinating conjunctions (like if, because, since, and although). A clause that starts with a subordinating conjunction is dependent and cannot stand alone as a sentence. Therefore, always be sure that you have another clause—an independent one—following the dependent one.


Try these practice questions:

  1. We have two hours to get there, that's plenty of time.

    1. NO CHANGE
    2. there that's plenty of time.
    3. there, which is plenty of time.
    4. there, which certainly should be plenty of time.
  2. Although now I can say I'm special and mean it.

    1. NO CHANGE
    2. Although, now I can say I’m special and mean it.
    3. Although I called myself special before, now I really mean it.
    4. Now I call myself special, however I didn’t mean it before.

Answers and Explanations

  1. The correct answer is C. Choices A and B are both run-on sentences. Although choice D is technically not wrong, it is wordy as well, making C the better choice.
  2. The correct answer is H. It consists of a dependent clause (Although I called myself special before) and an independent clause (now I really mean it). Choice F consists of a dependent clause only. So does choice G. The comma after although doesn’t change that fact. Choice I is a comma splice.


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