Long Compound Sentences

There is no limit to the number of clauses that you can put into a compound sentence. If you wanted, you could put a hundred clauses—or even a million!—into a single sentence. It might not be a beautiful sentence, but as long as you spliced the clauses properly, it would still be grammatically correct.

And long compound sentences are not necessarily difficult to understand. In fact, compound sentences are a very natural way of speaking, and children often speak in long compound sentences. Imagine yourself talking to a chatty 6-year-old, and you ask her: "What did you do at school today?"

She might reply something like this:

We made paper dolls, and I colored mine red, and I wrote my name on it, and Ms. Hathaway liked it, and she put it on the wall, and then we made Christmas decorations, and I made a star, and I colored it silver, and Lisa helped me, and she’s my best friend, and her birthday is in January, and she has a brother, but I don’t like him; he stole my marker, and Ms. Hathaway yelled at him, and then it was time for recess.


That sentence is long—(16 clauses!)—and it's certainly not very elegant, but nor is it too terribly painful to read. What makes a sentence difficult is not its length.

Later in this course we will study some things that do make sentences hard to understand, such as:

But don't worry about those things just yet. For now, the key point is this:

It is important to realize that the length of a sentence really has nothing to do with whether a sentence is a run-on or not.

Instructions for Quiz Quiz

For each sentence, determine if the sentence is: