Is “I slept I ate.” a run-on sentence? Find out.

Sometimes when, after kissing me, she opened the door to go, I longed to call her back, to say to her ‘Kiss me just once again,’ but I knew that then she would at once look displeased, for the concession which she made to my wretchedness and agitation in coming up to me with this kiss of peace always annoyed my father, who thought such ceremonies absurd, and she would have liked to try to induce me to outgrow the need, the custom of having her there at all, which was a very different thing from letting the custom grow up of my asking her for an additional kiss when she was already crossing the threshold.” 

∼ from Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

When asked to define a run-on sentence, people will often say it is an overly long sentence. Actually, though, the error has little to do with sentence length, since the sentence “I slept I ate.” consists of just 4 words and is, in fact, a run-on sentence, while the sentence quoted above is 116 words long and is grammatically correct.

Interesting! Yes?

From the first volume of Proust’s seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time (also translated as Remembrance of Things Past), considered by many to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written, this 116-word sentence is entirely grammatical, but, because it contains a number of dependent clauses, it is difficult to follow and requires focus and determination when we read it.

On the other hand, “I slept I ate.” is a fused sentence—a type of run-on sentence—because it lacks internal punctuation and instead “fuses” together two complete sentences (or independent clauses, with a subject and verb, that can stand alone).

One type of run-on sentence, then, is a fused sentence; the other type is a comma splice, or two or more independent clauses that are separated (or “spliced”) by a comma. A comma splice is a very common error, as in this example: I went home for dinner, I finished my report. In English, it is never correct to separate two independent clauses with a comma.

To fix a run-on sentence (either a fused sentence or a comma splice), do this:

  • INCORRECT (fused sentence) I slept I ate.
  • CORRECT (three possible fixes) • I slept. I ate. • I slept; I ate. • I slept, and I ate.
  • INCORRECT (comma splice) I went home for dinner, I finished my report.
  • CORRECT (three possible fixes) • I went home for dinner. I finished my report. • I went home for dinner; I finished my report. • I went home for dinner, and I finished my report.

So now you know.

A bustier will make me look bustier.

From Your Dictionary

Homographs, Homophones, and Homonyms

It’s easy to confuse homographs with homophones and homonyms, but if you think about each word, they make more sense.

Homo-, as you know, means “same.” But the end of each word tells us what is the same.

  • Homograph – “Graph” has to do with writing or drawing. When you think about a graph, you envision a picture. If you read graphic novels, you know they have pictures. Someone drew them. So “homograph” means “same picture” or “same writing.” Homographs are written (spelled) the same.
  • Homophone – “Phone” has to do with sound. When you talk on the telephone, you hear the other person’s voice. When people in the 1800s used a gramophone, they were listening to music. And phonology is the study of a language’s sounds. So “homophone” means “same sound.” Homophones are pronounced the same.
  • Homonym – “Nym” means “name.” Stevie Nicks and Stevie Wonder have the same first name, but they clearly are different people. It’s the same with homonyms. They’re spelled the same (homographs) and pronounced the same (homophones), but they have different meanings. “Bow,” for example, means both “to bend at the waist” and “the front of a boat.”