Sentence type

 

Q:

Could you please tell me if the following sentence is a run-on or correct but clunky:

After beginning the day in a wonderful mood, I was rushed to the hospital for stitches in my left foot which I received when I broke a glass and stepped on a small piece of broken fragments, and then the day became worse.

This was in an exercise to determine if sentences were fragments, run-ons, or sentences.

Carole Love
Phoenix, AZ
Posted 24 February 2003

A:

Although clunky, with a misplaced modifier, and too long, the sentence can be interpreted as correct, according to the definition of a complex-compound sentence:

A compound-complex sentence joins a compound and a complex sentence. It contains two or more independent clauses, and one or more dependent clauses.

In your sentence, "I was rushed" and "the day became worse" are the two independent clauses, joined by "and."

A dependent adverb phrase, "after beginning the day in a wonderful mood," is correctly placed; "to the hospital," "for stitches," and "in my left foot" are prepositional phrases properly placed; "which I received" is an adjective clause NOT PROPERLY PLACED or NOT PROPERLY WORDED; "when I broke a glass and stepped on a small piece of broken fragments" is an adverb clause, properly placed.

There are no fragments, and the sentence does not fit the definition of run-on (more than one sentence, improperly joined by commas) or fused (more than one sentence joined without appropriate punctuation).

However, the sentence contains a serious misplacement of the adjective clause "which I received." As the sentence stands, this clauses modifies "my left foot" and according to how the sentence reads, the writer received her left foot only when she "broke a glass and stepped on a small piece of broken fragments"!

Obviously, this is not logical. The author of the sentence correctly describes the sentence as "clunky." The sentence should be broken up into two or three sentences. Depending upon the timing of "become worse," here are two examples of less clunky passages:

After beginning the day in a wonderful mood, I was rushed to the hospital for injuries to in my left foot. I had broken a glass and stepped on a small piece of its broken fragments, badly cutting my left foot, which then required several stitches. Then the day became worse.

After beginning the day in a wonderful mood, the day quickly became worse. I broke a glass, stepped on a small piece of its broken fragments, badly cut my left foot, and was rushed to the hospital, where I received several stitches to my foot.

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