Welcome to the World of Run-On Sentences Uncategorized / Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

Wow- I had a student lately who wrote sentences that went on for five lines. Or more. Rarely less. Not good.

Sometimes folks have a lot to say, or think they do. Well, I’m happy for them but the train of thought school of writing only really works for Virginia Woolff and, the last I checked, she was dead.

Before you submit a document for grading, please read it out loud. If you have to come up for breath as you read, you need some punctuation there. Frequently, the needed punctuation will be a period.

Please do not use a sentence as the opportunity to rant on and on, switch topics several times, or go off on a tangent. Stick to the topic at hand. Cover it fully but not so completely that it takes forever to read it. He or she who writes the longest sentence does not win. (The student of whom I spoke would have written this paragraph as one sentence, for example.)

A particularly challenging sentence is one that is extremely long and requires a dictionary to understand. Don’t try to impress me with your lofty vocabulary. I will mark on my grading sheet that you are verbose, or that you have diarrhea of the mouth (or, in this case, the typewriter). It becomes even more of a challenge if your writing proves that you don’t know what those high and mighty words mean. (That happens more often than you think.)

So, folks, keep it reasonable in length, don’t use big words, and just tell me what you want to tell me.

Best,

Dr. Sheri


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Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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