Comma Splices

A comma splice contains two main clauses (independent sentences that make sense by themselves) that are stuck together with just a comma. This is also known as a comma fault. Here are some tips for recognizing and fixing them.

For a basic sentence you need a subject and verb, and the sentence must be a complete idea. This type of sentence is also known as an independent or main clause. When you want to write a sentence that contains two main clauses,you must punctuate it properly to avoid comma splices.

Here’s an example of a comma splice:

  • The wind was cold, they decided not to go swimming.

You can see that this sentence contains two main clauses – to separate sentences that make sense on their own – that have been fused together with just a comma, which is a grammatical error. This of a splice in a wire. It’s a weak spot. A comma splice weakens a sentence the way a splice weakens a wire. A comma alone is not strong enough to hold two complete sentences together.

How do you fix a comma splice? There are several ways of joining the two basic sentences above correctly.

You can place a period after the first main clause (after cold) and write the second main clause as a new sentence.

  • The wind was cold. They decided not to go swimming.

You can use a semicolon to join the two main clauses. To use a semicolon, you need to have an independent clause on either side of the semicolon.

  • The wind was cold; they decided not to go swimming.

You can use a comma and a coordinating conjunction that makes sense in the sentence. The coordinating conjunctions are:

  • For
  • And
  • Not
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Memory Tip: You can spell the word FANBOYS using the first letter of each of the coordinating conjunctions. This will help you remember them.

  • The wind was cold, so they decided not to go swimming.

You can also rewrite the sentence with a subordinate clause (which is not an independent sentence).

  • Because the wind was cold, they decided not to go swimming.
    (subordinate clause)              (main clause)

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