According to Dr. Sharon’s book, Survival of the Sickest, a hemochromatosis patient, Aran Gordon, experienced joint pain, heart flutters, and depression.

Is this a run-on sentence? If so, how can I correct it?

  • Requests for proofreading and rephrasing are off-topic here. Closing. Aug 24, 2015 at 18:56

5 Answers 5


It's not a run-on sentence, but it is a bit awkward, comma-wise.

If it's clear that Dr. Sharon writes books, I think I'd eliminate the word book and then get rid of that comma. And unless the patient's name is important I'd eliminate it as well. If the name is vital, maybe it could go in a second sentence? And I'd drop the Oxford comma.

According to Dr. Sharon’s Survival of the Sickest, a hemochromatosis patient experienced joint pain, heart flutters and depression. The patient, Alan Gordon, got better after eating lots of chocolate.

ETA: Oxford comma optional, I guess. Kinda. A bit. Sort of optional. Maybe.

  • 1
    noooooooo leave the Oxford comma! Aug 22, 2015 at 0:12
  • See youtube.com/watch?v=P_i1xk07o4g for my opinion on the debate. (Well, don't see it if you're super-sensitive to mid-level obscenities). "All your diction dripping with disdain"...
    – Kate S.
    Aug 22, 2015 at 0:40
  • Always use the Oxford comma I say. But at the very least, when in doubt, use the Oxford comma. It'll save you from embarrassment.
    – HexTitan
    Aug 24, 2015 at 6:43
  • Well, embarrassment seems a little strong. Different style guides have different feelings about the Oxford comma, and different publishers follow different style guides...
    – Kate S.
    Aug 24, 2015 at 10:35
  • It's not necessarily obvious that "Survival of the Sickest" is a book. At least, not from this stand-alone sentence. It might be an article in a magazine, or a TV documentary, or a speech.
    – Jay
    Aug 24, 2015 at 14:22

You could put inverted commas around the title of the book (or use italics). I don't consider it to be a run-on sentence. (Some people would not put a comma after 'fultters'.)

  • 1
    There should be a comma after flutters though, accord to Strunk & White. Aug 21, 2015 at 19:36
  • Oxford comma/serial comma. The debate rages on!
    – Kate S.
    Aug 21, 2015 at 20:08

Another idea:

According to Dr. Sharon’s book, Survival of the Sickest, hemochromatosis patient Aran Gordon experienced joint pain, heart flutters, and depression.

Do you have to include the patient's name?

It's not a "run-on" -- I wish teachers wouldn't use that term, which makes students wary of writing long sentences. A "run-together" sentence is two independent clauses joined by a comma (sometimes called a comma splice). You're not in that territory with this sentence.

  • Best answer here. Just removing that "a" before hemochromatosis vastly improves the fluidity of the sentence.
    – Danny
    Aug 22, 2015 at 6:44
  • Thanks -- I'm sure I meant to leave that out when I revised.
    – ewormuth
    Aug 22, 2015 at 14:44

It's not a run-on sentence, but there are many commas.

You could get rid of four commas like this:

In Dr. Sharon's "Survival of the Sickest", a hemochromatosis patient named Aran Gordon experienced joint pain, heart flutters and depression.


This is not a run-on sentence. A run-on sentence is when you combine several independent clauses with conjunctions or commas and just keep going and stringing thought after thought together without a break and you don't stop to put in a period but keep putting additional things that really should be separate sentences into the same sentence and so you have one big long sentence that really should be five or ten separate sentences and they're all just rammed together and the reader never gets to take a breath but the sentence just goes on and on and never seems to stop.

Not every long sentence is a run-on sentence. Perhaps more importantly, not every long sentence is bad. The problem is when a sentence becomes difficult to understand or digest. A list of three or four things doesn't make a sentence hard to understand. A list of a hundred things could get tedious, but even then, it's probably not hard to understand.

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