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Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS): Grammar Toolkit/Sentence errors

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                          Proof Reading  for Grammar Toolkit

                                                                                                                                                                                     

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Sentence basics 2

Should I start a new sentence?

All sentences have a topic, or a subject, and a verb. However, in your writing you may want to say something else about this subject or move on to another subject. Whenever the subject changes or is repeated, you can do either of the following:

  • Start a new sentence

  • Link the two parts together with a linking word

The following examples demonstrate some of the errors that can occur when we forget to consider our subjects.

Error 1: Run-on sentences

The class hired a live model we made a sculpture of her.

The problem

This error is known as a run-on sentence, which means that two independent sentences have been merged into one. Each of these sentences has a subject (The class; we) and a verb (hired; made). Run-on sentences are confusing for readers and grammatically incorrect.

Possible solutions

  • This example could be separated into two sentences. Short sentences like these are more common for stating facts:

    ⇒The class hired a live model. We made a sculpture of her.

  • Alternatively, a linking word could be used in the middle of the sentence:

    ⇒The class hired a live model and we made a sculpture of her.

Error 2: Comma splices

Now consider the second example:

My sculpture was better than I had expected, I will use the same techniques in the future.

The problem

This error is known as a comma splice, which means that two independent sentences have been linked with a comma. Comma splices are grammatically incorrect.

Possible solutions

  • Use a full stop instead of the comma to separate the two sentences:

    ⇒My sculpture was better than I had expected. I will use the same technique in the future.

  • Use a semicolon to separate the two sentences:

⇒My sculpture was better than I had expected; I will use the same technique in the future.

  • Use a linking word like ‘and’:

⇒My sculpture was better than I had expected and I will use the same technique in the future.

  • It is often a stylistic choice, but the best solution in this case is to use a connector that shows the logical relationship between the two sentences (cause-effect):

 My sculpture was better than I had expected, so I will use the same technique in the future.

⇒My sculpture was better than I had expected. For this reason, I will use the same technique in the future. 

Linking words

Whether you start a new sentence or link two parts of a sentence together, think about whether the second idea is along the same lines as the first or whether there is some contrast or limitation. The table below includes examples of linking words that can help highlight relationships between ideas:

Linking sentences checklist

Further resources

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

 Problems with sentence structure (University of Hull) Brief explanations of common errors with sentence structure:

Each explanation is followed by a short quiz.

Run-on sentences  (University of Bristol) Explanation followed by quiz.

Downloads

To download your own copy of the Linking sentences checklist, click the link below: