Commas can be challenging because there are several ways to use them. If you aren’t sick of hearing about commas after reading this article, you can read Nine Comma Pitfalls to Avoid. Ironically, you’ll have to hear about the dreaded comma splice again—albeit briefly.
Comma splices are evil!
Okay, comma splices aren’t really evil. Well, maybe after discovering several pesky comma splices in a manuscript, an author might think comma splices are evil, but don’t worry. Any editor will tell you comma splices are the most common error with commas and can be fixed easily.
A comma splice is created by connecting two independent clauses (a.k.a. complete sentences or main clauses) with a comma alone.
Mary wanted to cook a gourmet dinner for Bob, she signed up for cooking lessons.
The two independent clauses (complete sentences) are:
- Mary wanted to cook a gourmet dinner for Bob.
- She signed up for cooking lessons.
How to Fix a Comma Splice
There are several ways to fix a comma splice. Five methods are listed below, beginning with the easiest and/or quickest.
Method 1: Use a coordinating conjunction
A coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) can be placed after the comma to connect the two independent clauses (complete sentences).
Mary wanted to cook a gourmet dinner for Bob, so she signed up for cooking lessons.
Method 2: Separate into two sentences
Replace the comma with a period, and capitalize the first word of the new sentence.
Mary wanted to cook a gourmet dinner for Bob. She signed up for cooking lessons.
I do use comma splices, especially in my flash fiction, which is closer to poetry than prose. Very well written, Kelly.
Will share this with my students.
This is a great article. I didn’t know it was called comma splice. I usually don’t do them in my writing, but if they do happen I fix it because it sounds funny when I read it back.
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I should really be reading your post more often! Grammar has never been a strong point for me! Good to know, I stick those little buggers everywhere when I’m not adding and five times in a sentence 🙂
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