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Run-on sentences

Run-on sentences occur when two or more independent clauses are joined without using a coordinating conjunction (e.g., for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) or correct punctuation (e.g., commas, semicolons, dashes, or periods).

A run-on sentence can be as short as four words.

I drive she walks.

In this case, there are two subjects (I, she) paired with two intransitive verbs (drive, walks).

An imperative sentence can be a run-on even if it only has two words.

Run walk.

However, with correct punctuation, a writer can assemble multiple independent clauses in a single sentence. A properly constructed sentence can be extended indefinitely.

It is important to realize that the length of a sentence has nothing to do with whether a sentence is a run-on or not. A run-on sentence is a structural flaw that can affect even a very short sentence.

The sun is high, put on some sunblock.

When two independent clauses are connected by only a comma, they constitute a run-on sentence that is called a comma-splice. The example above is a comma-splice. When a comma is used to connect two independent clauses, it must be accompanied by a little conjunction (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so).

For example, the following sentence is correct:

The sun is high, so put on some sunscreen.

Run-on sentences happen typically under the following circumstances:

1. An independent clause gives an order or directive based on what was said in the prior independent clause.

This next chapter has a lot of difficult information in it, you should start studying right away.

We could put a period where that comma is and start a new sentence. A semicolon would also work.

2. Two independent clauses are connected by a transitional expression (conjunctive adverb) such as however, moreover, or nevertheless.

Mr. Nguyen has sent his four children to ivy-league colleges, however, he has sacrificed his health working day and night in that dusty bakery.

Again, where that first comma appears, we could have used either a period — and started a new sentence — or a semicolon.

3. The second of two independent clauses contains a pronoun that connects it to the first independent clause.

This computer doesn’t make sense to me, it came without a manual.

Although these two clauses are quite brief, and the ideas are closely related, this is a run-on sentence. We need a period where that comma now stands.

Most of those computers in the Learning Assistance Center are broken already, this proves my point about American computer manufacturers.

Again, two nicely related clauses, incorrectly connected — a run-on. Use a period to cure this sentence.

Articles and Determiners

There are three articles/determiners in the English language:

The: a definite article, and a/an: both indefinite articles.

Articles are adjectives that modify nouns regarding definiteness.

The apple” is a particular apple with a certain shape, color etc.
An apple” can be any apple with any shape, color etc.

A common mistake in English writing is the misuse of articles a/an.

Article a precedes words that begin with a consonant, e.g., “a boy,” “a cat” or “a dog.”

Article an precedes words that begin with a vowel, e.g., “an ape,” “an egg” or “an igloo.” However, there are many exceptions to these rules where article a precedes words beginning with a vowel, and article an precedes words beginning with a consonant.

Exceptions to use of article a, i.e., when a precedes words starting with a vowel, include words starting with “eu” and “u” that begin with a “yoo” sound, such as “eulogy” and “university”. These exceptions are preceded with article a, i.e., “a eulogy” and “a university.”

Exceptions to use of article an, i.e., when an precedes words starting with a consonant, include words starting with “h” and “x,” where the “h” is not pronounced, e.g., “hour”, and the “x” is pronounced (eks sound), e.g., “x-ray”. These exceptions are preceded with article an, i.e., “an hour” and “an x-ray.

Examples of article a used correctly:

He wanted to be a professional baseball player since he was a boy.
Her father finally gave in and bought his daughter a puppy.
It takes a long time to learn how to ride a unicycle.
A local playing a ukulele is a common sight in Hawaii.
A fork is a common utensil.

Examples of article a used incorrectly:

He waited over a hour for her to get ready.
He ate only a apple for lunch.
It was quite a honor to be invited to the President’s Ball.
The doctor said that she would need a x-ray to determine if her arm was broken.
The Eskimos built a igloo to shelter themselves from the harsh winter weather to come.

Examples of article an used correctly:

An air conditioner was installed in the apartment building after years of tenant complaints.
An egg is a great source of protein.
It takes an intelligent person to become an astronaut.
The dog was able to escape the yard through an opening in the fence.
“UFO” stands for an unidentified flying object.

Examples of article an used incorrectly:

An unicorn is a fantasy, nonexistent animal.
His parents hope that he gets in to an good college.
He took his son to an baseball game to reward him for his outstanding grades.
She could not afford a new car, so she purchased an used one.
The campers did not have an can opener, so they had to use a knife.



Verbs modify nouns and pronouns and generally indicate their action or a state of being. There are several classifications of verbs- action verbs, linking verbs, auxiliary verbs, transitive/intransitive verbs, and phrasal verbs.


1. Action verbs modify nouns and pronouns and show action.

Mary hit Jim so hard that he fell down.

In this sentence, “hit” is the action verb that modifies the subject and noun “Mary” and shows her action.

She ran to the store to pick something up for dinner.

In this example, “ran” is the action verb that modifies the pronoun and subject of the sentence “She” and shows her action.

2. Linking Verbs are verbs that express a state of being. They are called “linking verbs” because they link the subject of the sentence to a word or phrase in the predicate that renames or describes the subject (tells more about the subject’s “state of being”).

The flowers in the garden are quite beautiful.

In this example, the linking verb “are” links the subject of the sentence “flowers” to the adjective “beautiful.”

The fresh pie smelled wonderful.

In this sentence, “smelled” is the linking verb that links the adjective “wonderful” to the subject of the sentence, “pie.”

3. Auxiliary verbs, also called helping verbs, serve as support to the main verb of the sentence.

The most common auxiliary verbs are:

A: am, are
B: be, been, being
C: can, could
D: did, do, does
H: had, has, have
I: is
M: may, might, must
O: ought (to)
S: shall, should
W: was, were, will, would

I will come over later in the afternoon.

In this example, “come” is the action verb, and “will” is the auxiliary or helping verb.

I can send that document via email today if you prefer.

In this sentence, “can” is the auxiliary or helping verb, and “send” is the action verb.

4. Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Transitive Verbs require a direct object for the sentence to make sense.

Jim takes aspirin for his headaches.

Here, takes is a transitive verb since the sentence “Jim takes” has no meaning without its direct object “aspirin.”

Intransitive Verbs do not require a direct object for them to make sense.

Mary swims.

In this case, the verb “swim” has meaning for the reader without an object.

5. Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are made up of a verb and a preposition. The preposition gives the verb a different meaning then it would have by itself. For example, the verb look has a different meaning from the phrasal verb look up.

Examples of common phrasal verbs: call up, find out, hand in, make up, put off, turn on, write up.



Prepositions are words that, like conjunctions, connect a noun or pronoun to another word in a sentence. They modify nouns or pronouns to indicate their location in the physical world, the specific time of action or existence, and circumstance.

Examples of some common prepositions:

A: about, above, according to, across, after, against, along, along with, among, apart from, around, as, as for, at
B: because of, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, by means of
C: concerning
D: despite, down, during
E: except, except for, excepting
F: for, from
I: in, in addition to, in back of, in case of, in front of, in place of, inside, in spite of, instead of, into
L: like
N: near, next
O: of, off, on, onto, on top of, out, out of, outside, over
P: past
R: regarding, round
S: since
T: through, throughout, till, to, toward
U: under, underneath, unlike, until, up, upon, up to
W: with, within, without


Please empty the trash in the garbage can.

In this case, the preposition “in” indicates the physical location (garbage can) of the trash that needs to be emptied.

To cool down, Jim decided to jump into the pool.

In this case, the preposition “into” indicates the direction and location where Jim is going (the pool) to cool off.

During the American Civil War, many lives were lost.

In this sentence, the preposition “during” indicates the specific period (American Civil War) when many lives were lost.

Since John broke up with his toxic girlfriend, he seems much happier.

In this case, the preposition “since” indicates the point in time when John started feeling happier.

Without knowledge, most of us would be lost in this world.

In this example, the preposition “without” modifies “knowledge” and indicates a circumstance that would cause us to be lost in this world.



Interjections are words used to express and emphasize emotions. They are usually found in narrative writing, interviews, and in spoken English. Interjections are colloquial expressions and should not be used in formal or academic writing.

The following is a list of common interjections:

A: absolutely, achoo, ack, ahh, aha, ahem, ahoy, agreed, alas, alright, alrighty alack, amen, anytime, argh, anyhoo, anyhow, as if, attaboy, attagirl, aww, awesome, awful
B: bam, bah humbug, bazinga, behold, bingo, blah, blech, bless you, boo, boom, boo-yah, bravo, brrr, by golly, by gum
C: cheers, congratulations, cool, crud
D: dang, darn, doh, drat, drats, duh
E: eek, eh, encore, eureka, eww
F: fiddlesticks
G: gadzooks, gak, gee, geepers, geez, gee whiz, gol, golly, goodbye, goodness, good grief, gosh, gracious, groovy
H: ha, ha-ha, hallelujah, hello, hey, hi, hmm, holy buckets, holy cow, holy macaroni, holy smokes, hooray, hot coffee, hot dog, huh?, humph, hurray
I: indeed
J: jeez
L: lol
M: my god, my gosh, (my, my, my)
N: no, now, nah
O: oh, oh dear, oh no, oh my, (oh, snap), oh well, omg, oops, ouch, ow, oy
P: phew, phooey, please, pooh, pow
R: rats
S: shh, shoo, shoot, shucks, sweet, suck it
T: thanks, there, tut-tut
U: uh-huh, ugh, uh-oh
W: waa, wahoo, well, whammo, what, whew, whoa, whoops, wow, wtf
Y: yahoo, yay, yeah, yes, yikes, yippee, yo, yowza, yuck, yum

Interjection punctuation: Depending on the mood of the interjection, they are followed by either a comma (,) or exclamation point (!). Mild interjections are followed by a comma and strong interjections are punctuated with an exclamation point.

Oh no, I am going to be late for the party.

Generally, a party is a casual social event and not such an important destination. Therefore, the person making this statement will sound less urgent than the next example.

Oh no! I am going to be late for my work presentation.

Work, unlike a party, is generally considered a very important destination, especially if you are giving a presentation! Being late can have severe consequences. Here, the speaker will have a greater sense of urgency, thus the interjection is punctuated with an exclamation point.



A conjunction is the part of speech used as a “joiner” for words, phrases, or clauses in a particular sentence. They link words or groups of words together so that certain relationships among these different parts of the sentence will be established, and the thoughts that all of these convey will be connected.


There are three types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and correlative conjunctions.

1. Coordinating Conjunctions

Among the three types of conjunctions, coordinating conjunctions are the most common. The main function of coordinating conjunctions is to join words, phrases, and clauses together, which are usually grammatically equal. Aside from that, this type of conjunction is placed between the words or groups of words that it links together, and not at the beginning or at the end. There are seven coordinating conjunctions in the English language. You can use the mnemonic device FANBOYS to remember them.

The coordinating conjunctions are: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So

Chips and salsa is one of my favorite snacks.

In this example, “and” is the coordinating conjunction that links two words together (chips + salsa).

I left my shoes at the top of the stairs or in my bedroom.

In this example, or is the coordinating conjunction that demonstrates how two (or more) phrases can be joined together. The coordinating conjunction “or” links the phrases “at the top of the stairs” and “in my bedroom.

Coordinating conjunctions can be used with commas to create compound sentences. A compound sentence is a sentence consisting of two independent clauses. That is, a compound sentence is simply two complete sentences joined by a comma and a coordinating conjunction.

The host of the party fell asleep, so everyone went home.

In this example, “comma + so” links the two independent clauses (sentences) “The host of the party fell asleep” and “everyone went home.

2. Subordinating Conjunctions join an independent clause to a subordinate clause. That is, they join a clause that can stand alone with a clause that cannot stand alone.

Some frequently used subordinating conjunctions are:

after, although, as, as far as, as if, as soon as, because, before, even if, even though, how, if, in case, in that, no matter how, now that, once, provided, since, so that, supposing, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, while

After you finish your dinner, you can have dessert.
Because it is so late, we will finish this tomorrow.
The baseball game will continue, even if it rains.
You have to finish this work today, whether you like it or not.

In the sentences above, a subordinating conjunction is either at the beginning of the sentence or between the clauses that it links together. Regardless of the location of the subordinating conjunction, a comma should always be placed between the two clauses (independent clause and dependent clause) of the sentence.

3. Correlative Conjunctions also join ideas, but they work in pairs. They are:

not only…but

Not only am I your colleague, but your friend as well.
Either you finish your homework tonight, or you wake up early tomorrow morning and finish it then.



An adverb is a word that modifies an action verb, an adjective or another adverb. Most adverbs end in “-ly” which makes them easy to spot.


Adverb modifying an action verb

The surgeon carefully removed the sutures from his patient.

Carefully is an adverb that modifies the action verb to remove.

Adverb modifying an adjective

Jim was extremely positive about the initial results.

Extremely is an adverb that modifies the adjective positive.

Adverb modifying another adverb

We should get the results very quickly.

Very is an adverb that modifies the adverb quickly.


Relative adverbs introduce a group of words, questions, and dependent (or relative) clauses. They describe more about a noun and can be used instead of a relative pronoun plus a preposition.

The three main relative adverbs are: when, where, why

The relative adverb where means “in which” or “at which” and is used to refer to a place.

This is the park in which I jog every day.” (relative pronoun plus preposition)
This is the park where I jog every day. (relative adverb where)

The relative adverb when means “in which” or “at which” and is used to refer to a time expression.

Early afternoon is the time in which I run errands. (relative pronoun plus preposition)
Early afternoon is the time when I run errands. (relative adverb when)

The relative adverb why means “for which” and is used to refer to a reason.

The boss wants to know the reason for which John isn’t at work today. (relative pronoun plus preposition)
The boss wants to know the reason why John isn’t at work today. (relative adverb why)

Adverbs of frequency describe how often something occurs, either in definite or indefinite terms.

The adverbs of frequency are: always, frequently, generally, hardly ever, never, normally, occasionally, often, rarely, seldom, sometimes, usually

I always brush my teeth before going to bed.
We occasionally go fishing on the weekend.
The company seldom replies to their customers in a timely fashion.
I usually go for a walk in the late afternoon.

NOTE: In general, adverbs of frequency come before the verb. The exception to this is with the verb “to be,” and its various forms, where the adverb of frequency comes after the verb. The forms of “to be” include am, are, be, been, being, is, was, and were.

Andy is always late with his payments.
We are generally in agreement with the terms you have presented.
I am never coming here again!



An adjective modifies (describes) a noun or pronoun.

He was anxious to get home and watch football. (the adjective “anxious” modifies the pronoun “he” in this case)
The beautiful flowers were planted in the garden with care. (the adjective “beautiful” describes/modifies the noun “flowers”)
The race was very competitive. (the adjective “competitive” modifies the noun “race”)

Adjectives can be used to make comparisons

Most one-syllable adjectives can become comparative by adding an “–er” to the end of it. For example,

brighter, slower, and stronger.

Adjectives with two or more syllables require the modifier “more” in front of them create comparative adjectives.

This group of students seemed more intelligent than the others.
He has always been more handsome than his friends.
This class is more intense than any others I have ever taken.

NOTE: Never use the word more in front of comparative adjectives ending in an “–er.”

This lightbulb is more brighter than the other one. (Incorrect)
This lightbulb is brighter than the other one. (Correct)

Adjectives can be used as superlatives

Most one-syllable adjectives can be converted to superlatives by adding “–est” to the end. For example,

the boldest, the greatest, the smartest.

For adjectives with two or more syllables, the words “the most” must precede them to become superlatives.

He is the most intelligent person I have ever met.
Dr. Smith was the most confident surgeon in the hospital.
That is the most beautiful house on the street.

NOTE: Never use the word most in front of comparative adjectives ending in “–est.”

That was the most greatest thing that has ever happened to me. (Incorrect)
That was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. (correct)


There are some irregular adjectives that are not converted to their comparative and superlative forms by adding an “-er” or “-est” at the end.

Adjective, comparing two, comparing three or more:
Bad, worse, worst
Good, better, best
Little, less, least
Much, more, most



A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun and eliminates the need for repetition.

John put John’s book back on the shelf. (repetitious)
John put his book back on the shelf. (the pronoun his replaces the antecedent John)


1. Personal pronouns refer to specific persons or things. Personal pronouns can act as subjects, objects, or possessives.

Singular personal pronouns: he, her, him, I, it, me, she, you
Plural personal pronouns: them, they, us, we

The personal pronouns that can be used as subjects of sentences include: he, I, it, she, they, we, you

He threw the ball very hard.
They all knew the correct answer.
She and I went to the concert together.

The personal pronouns that can be used as objects include: her, him, it, me, them, us, you

The teacher gave all of us a lot of homework over the weekend.
My girlfriend doesn’t think these pants fit me.
Have you ever tried it?

NOTE: The personal pronouns I and we are always used as subjects and NEVER objects sentences. The personal pronouns her, him, me, them, and us are always used as objects and NEVER subjects of sentences.

2. Possessive pronouns indicate ownership or possession.

Singular possessive pronouns: hers, his, its, mine, my, your, yours
Plural possessive pronouns: ours, theirs, yours

I rode my bike to the store this afternoon.
Your contribution was greatly appreciated.
They reviewed all proposals and chose ours because it was the best one.

3. Reflexive pronouns name a receiver of an action who is identical to the doer of the action.

Singular reflexive pronouns: herself, himself, itself, myself, yourself
Plural reflexive pronouns: ourselves, themselves, yourselves

Peter congratulated himself on the excellent job he did.
I don’t want to hurt myself by doing these physically demanding tasks.
We owe it to ourselves to at least try it.

4. Intensive pronouns emphasize a noun or another pronoun.

Singular intensive pronouns: herself, himself, itself, myself, yourself
Plural intensive pronouns: ourselves, themselves, yourselves

I saw Tom Hanks himself at Starbucks today.
She herself is not entirely responsible for this catastrophe.
We ourselves all need to calm down because we will get through this.

5. Reciprocal pronouns express shared actions or feelings.

Reciprocal pronouns: Each other, one another

I hope that you and your brother will always be supportive of each other.
The two colleagues were both foodies and loved to dine with one another when they got the chance.

6. Indefinite pronouns refer to non-specific persons and things.

Indefinite pronouns: All, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, both, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, neither, nobody, none, no one, nothing, one, several, some, somebody, someone, something

Unfortunately, everyone disagreed with I thought was a great idea.
None of us would even consider going out for a drink at this hour.
It is a sad reality that only a few of us would stand up and do the right thing in this situation.

7. Demonstrative pronouns are also considered noun markers. They “point” toward nouns.

Demonstrative pronouns: that, these, this, those

That man is my hero.
These chickens are ready to lay eggs.
Those people are making a lot of noise.

8. Interrogative Pronouns introduce questions.

Interrogative pronouns: what, which, who, whose, whom

Which one did you decide to take?
Who is going on the trip?
What are you doing?
To whom shall I send this correspondence?

9. Relative Pronouns introduce dependent clauses and refer to a person or thing already mentioned in the sentence (i.e., the antecedent).

Relative pronouns: that, which, who, whoever, whom, whomever, whose

The person who I decide to marry will be spectacular.
The tree that is blocking the pathway must be removed.



A noun is a word used to name something: a person/animal, a place, a thing, or an idea.

Examples of nouns

People: boy, Thomas Jefferson, Michael Jackson, girl
Animals: cat, dog, lion, elephant, leopard, squirrel
Places: Paris, Sierra Leone, Portland, Oregon, Europe, the Gap
Things: pencil, telephone, watch, store, glass
Ideas: Theory of Relativity, The Ten Commandments, The Laws of Thermodynamics


1. Singular nouns name only one person, place, thing or idea.


2. Plural nouns name two or more persons, places, things or ideas. Most singular nouns (Not ALL) are made plural by adding –s.


Exception #1: If a noun ends with the –s, sh, ch, or x like the words, kiss, ash, church, or box, then they are made plural by adding –es: kisses, churches, ashes, and boxes.

Exception #2: There are also irregular nouns that do not follow any rules. For example, the plural form of child, leaf, mouse, and tooth is children and leaves, and mice, and teeth, respectively.

Exception #3: There are nouns that are both singular and plural without modifications. For example, sheep, deer, and moose are both the singular and plural spellings of these words.

3. Proper nouns refer to specific people, places, things and ideas. They are always capitalized!

King Henry
Mrs. Jones
Central Intelligence Agency
New York
Boston Tea Party
People Magazine
George Washington

4. Common nouns are all other nouns. For example:

cat, pencil, paper, etc.

They are not capitalized unless they are the first word in the sentence.

5. Collective nouns are nouns that are grammatically considered singular, but include more than one person, place, thing, or idea in its meaning. Words like

team, group, jury, committee, audience, crowd, class, troop, family, team, couple, band, herd, quartet, and society

are all collective nouns.

Generally, collective nouns are treated as singular because they emphasize the group as one unit.

The band is going to perform at the Troubadour this weekend.

6. Count nouns are nouns that can be counted, such as

people, cars, books, and friends.

7. Non-Count nouns are nouns that cannot be counted such as

air, outside, gas, liquid, water, and food.

8. Concrete nouns are nouns that you can physically touch. They are people, places, and some things. Words like

person, court, pencil, hand, paper, car, and door

are all examples of concrete nouns.

9. Abstract nouns are nouns that cannot be physically held. For example, things like

air, justice, safety, Democracy, faith, religion, etc.

10. Gerund nouns are nouns that become verbs by adding –ing at the end of the word, such as

running, playing, fixing, and sleeping.

11. Possessive nouns convey ownership.

Singular nouns are converted to their possessive forms by adding by adding an apostrophe “s” at the end, such as

John’s book, the wall’s color, and the computer’s screen.

Singular nouns ending in “s” become possessive by adding an apostrophe at the end, such as

the Jones’ car.

Plural nouns ending in “s” are also made possessive by adding an apostrophe at the end, such as

the buildings’ facades.

Irregular plural nouns are made possessive by adding an apostrophe “s” at the end, such as

the mice’s cheese.

12. Nouns with markers. Nouns are often preceded by markers, which are also called determiners and quantifiers. Common markers include

a, an, the, this, that, these, those, each, some, numbers (1,2,3,etc.), several, many, a lot, few, and possessive pronouns (his, her, etc.).

13. Nouns can be adjectives and verbs. Depending on the context and word order of a sentence, nouns can also be adjectives and verbs.

My favorite color is brown. (brown as a noun)
The brown chair will look great in the den. (brown as an adjective)

I went for a run this morning. (run as a noun)
I am going to run to the store. (run as a verb)