What is a comma splice?
A comma splice occurs when a writer links together two independent clauses with a comma, rather than a stronger form of punctuation.
Example: I had no idea how to attach the boutonniere to my prom date’s jacket, I repeatedly poked him with the pin.
How to correct a comma splice
To correct a comma splice a writer can do any of the following:
- Remove the comma and replace it with a period, thus creating two separate sentences.
- Remove the comma and replace it with a semicolon, showing the reader that the two clauses are related but separate.
- Add a coordinating conjunction after the comma. Coordinating conjunctions include “for,” “and,” “nor,” “but,” “or,” “yet,” “so” (FANBOYS).
- If possible, restructure the sentence so that there is only one independent clause.
How a writer chooses to correct the comma splice is dependent on the content of the sentence and the writer’s style. In most cases, there are several acceptable ways to correct the same comma splice.
What is a fused sentence?
A fused sentence is a sentence in which two independent clauses are joined together without any punctuation separating them.
How to correct a fused sentence
- First, determine where the first independent clause ends and the other begins.
- Next, add a period, semicolon, or comma and a coordinating conjunction.
Comma splices and fused sentences are independent clauses that have not been joined correctly. A word group that can stand alone as a sentence is known as an independent clause. When two independent clauses appear in one sentence, they can be joined in one of many ways.
- With a comma and a coordinating conjunction such as (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet).
- With a semicolon (or occasionally a colon or a dash).
- Divide the two independent clauses into two sentences.
- Consider restructuring the sentences, perhaps by subordinating one of the clauses.
Comma Splices occur when the writer connects two independent clauses with a comma.
Incorrect: Chloe ate her dog food, the brand was Pedigree.
The two subjects, dog food and brand, are connected by an unneeded comma. If a coordinating conjunction were used after the comma, the sentence would be correct.
- Chloe ate her dog food, and the brand was Pedigree. (Use a comma and a coordinating conjunction.)
- Chloe ate her dog food; Pedigree was the brand. (Use a semicolon.)
- Chloe ate her dog food. The kind she ate was Pedigree. (Divide the sentence into two complete sentences.)
- The kind of dog food Chloe ate was Pedigree. (Reconstruct the sentence.)
Fused sentences do not display a comma between independent clauses. As stated before, a fused sentence is also known as a run-on sentence.
Incorrect: The cheerleaders got new uniforms they can not wait for the first game in November.
Revision can be done in the following ways:
- Use a period and write two sentences.Correct: The cheerleaders got new uniforms. They can not wait for the first game in November.
- Use a semicolon.Correct: The cheerleaders got new uniforms; they can not wait for the first game in November.
Both comma splices and fused sentences can be corrected using the same methods.
Below are a few practice sentences for comma splices or fused sentences. Please use the space provided below to make the necessary changes.
- Chloe likes to chase the cat, the cat doesn’t like Chloe.
- Chloe is a black lab she is a good dog.
- The cheerleaders practice every night they practice for two hours.
- The cheerleaders only cheer for basketball there is no football team.
Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1995.
Watkins, Floyd C., and William B. Dillingham. Practical English Handbook. 10th Edition. Boston:. Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
Created by Ellen Starling