Make sure that each sentence has an independent (or main) clause. A dependent clause cannot stand on its own. It must be added to an independent clause.
Dependent clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions. Common examples are: if, whether, because, as, when, while, since, after etc.
The word groups given below are all dependent clauses that cannot stand alone.
- When she finished her work.
- Because she was tired.
- Since they were working on it.
It is easy to identify dependent clauses. They usually begin with conjunctions.
Not all clauses introduced by conjunctions are dependent (subordinate) clauses. Clauses introduced by coordinating conjunctions are independent (main) clauses. The most common coordinating conjunctions are: and, or, but, for, yet, nor, so. Although you can begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, it is not always considered appropriate.
A run-on sentence is a very common error. While proofreading your work, read each sentence to see whether it contains more than one independent clause.
If a sentence contains two or more independent clauses they must be connected with a coordinating conjunction. Or they must be separated with an appropriate punctuation mark.
Study the example sentence given below.
- My boss has asked me to make a presentation about the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing I don’t know anything about the subject.
The sentence given above contains two independent clauses but they are not connected by a conjunction or separated by a punctuation mark.
It could be rewritten as:
- My boss has asked me to make a presentation about the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing but I don’t know anything about the subject.
- My boss has asked me to give a presentation about the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing. However, I don’t know anything about the subject.