One quick skim can find and correct one of the most common grammar mistakes in your writing

I’ve worked in the field of writing for over 10 years now, helping students and business professionals of all ages with their writing. As I help my clients correct grammar mistakes, one grammar issue come up almost every single time:

 

Run-on sentences

 

After teaching countless clients the following strategy, I wanted to share it with you so you too can correct grammar mistakes without the fear that often follows.

 

Memorize these seven words

I’m going to teach you a big word so you can impressive someone with your intelligent vocabulary.

coordinating conjunction

 

What exactly is a coordinating conjunction? They are common words we use all the time:

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

 

Memorizing those seven words will help you catch almost all run-on sentence mistakes. And it takes about seven seconds to memorize them. Just remember this acronym: FANBOYS.

 

My son was four months old when I wrote this, and he is a huge “fan boy” of fans as you can see in this picture:

Baby staring at ceiling fan.

 

 

Remember his crazy cute picture if it helps you memorize the coordinating conjunctions.

 

Correcting run-on sentences by finding the coordinating conjunctions

So now that you’ve got them memorized, let’s correct grammar mistakes using these seven words.

 

A run-on sentence is actually a combination of two complete sentences without proper punctuation. Example of a run-on sentence:

 June walked across the park and he ate a hot dog.

 

What makes a complete sentence?

 

subject + verb

 

A run-on sentence can be corrected in a number of different ways, but if you want to keep the sentences connected, you can just add a comma before the word and.

 

Corrected example: June walked across the park, and he ate a hot dog.

 

Notice something in that sentence? The word and is on our list of coordinating conjunctions.

 

A lot of times, we make run-on sentences and we use one of the conjunctions but we forget to use a comma to help out the conjunction. Conjunctions are not strong enough to hold two complete sentences together on their own.

 

Take a look at the sentence I just used: A lot of times, we make run-on sentences and we use one of the conjunctions but we forget to use a comma to help out the conjunction.

 

Can you tell how many complete sentences are used here?

 

I’ll give you a moment to count the subjects and verbs.

 

Got it?

 

There are three complete sentences. Did you catch the mistake I made? Yep. I didn’t use commas with the coordinating conjunctions. The sentence should have said: A lot of times, we make run-on sentences, and we use one of the conjunctions, but we forget to use a comma to help out the conjunction.

 

So let’s apply this to your writing now. When you proofread your papers, look for the coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS). Each time you find one, look to the left. Then look to the right. Is there a complete sentence on both sides? If so, make sure a comma is used with the coordinating conjunction.
Speed this process up by using the find function to quickly search for these words. Read my article on proofreading using the find function here.