Poor comma placement will destroy even the nicest, most eloquent essays. A comma splice is a common error in English consisting of joining two independent clauses with only a comma. Once you recognize a comma splice, it is easy to rewrite the sentence so that it is correct.
Understand what a comma splice is. A comma splice is the use of a comma to join two independent clauses. It is generally considered bad form when writing in English.
- Wrong: That is a horrible plan, I hope they never implement it.
Write independent clauses as separate, complete sentences.
- That is a horrible plan. I hope they never implement it.
Use a semicolon to join two short, independent clauses that are closely related.
- That is a horrible plan; I hope they never implement it.
Use a conjunction and a comma to join two related independent clauses.
- I’d like to go, but I don’t have the time.
- He already asked me, and I think I will say yes.
Rewrite one of the independent clauses as a dependent clause, and attach it to the remaining dependent clause.
- Ella is my boss. Ella asked me to attend the meeting. (Two independent clauses)
- Ella, my boss, asked me to attend the meeting.
- I had no map. I got lost.
- Because I had no map, I got lost.
Recognize the exceptions to the rule. A comma splice may be used if the independent clauses are short and related. It may also be used in poetic writing. Strunk gives the following example: The gate swung apart, the bridge fell, the portcullis was drawn up.
- Familiarize yourself with good sentence structure; knowing the rules will make it easier to identify improperly used commas.
- A comma splice is correct usage in Spanish, but not in English. Different rules will apply in different languages.
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