Time for another session of Writer’s Corner! This time, we’re tackling another grammatical issue: sentence structure errors.
Thanks very common types of structure errors are run-ons and comma splices. The first, run-ons, are sentences missing a conjunction with proper punctuation. The second, comma splices, lack a conjunction, but they have proper punctuation.
(In case you didn’t know, conjunctions serve to join parts of a sentence together. They are the sentence’s glue.)
Here is an example of a run-on and then a comma splice to make these sound less confusing:
- Jazza walked down the street she grabbed me by the shoulder.
- I didn’t want to follow, Jazza grabbed me by the shoulder.
In the first example, a run-on, how can the reader tell where the first part, Jazza walked down the street, separates from the second part, she grabbed me by the shoulder? In the second, the two parts are separated by a comma, but what is their relationship with each other?
You may be stumped to figure out how to make these things clear to your reader. However, there is one thing you can do: add a conjunction. Conjunctions vary, but the most common ones you want–coordinating conjunctions–can be remembered with the acronym FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so). For example:
Jazza walked down the street, and she grabbed me by the shoulder.
I didn’t want to follow, but Jazza grabbed me by the shoulder.
I didn’t want to follow, so Jazza grabbed me by the shoulder.
See how the relationship between the two halves is made clearer? Try this in your own writing! Find the two separate parts in a sentence and link them together.