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Comma Splices: Examples & Corrections

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  • 0:00 The Comma
  • 0:53 The Comma Splice
  • 2:01 The Period New Sentence Fix
  • 2:28 The Semicolon Fix
  • 3:05 The Conjunctions &…
  • 4:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
The comma...a simple punctuation mark, right? Wrong! This lesson covers the comma splice, the most common error with commas. You will also learn how to fix this error in your own writing.

The Comma

How much does our society depend on the written word? Think about it; writing has allowed cultures to flourish, history to be recorded, and communication to expand exponentially. But, we must remember that writing is a language in and of itself, which means in order for it to be effective, it must follow certain rules. These rules ensure that the reader can interpret the message.

This is why we have punctuation. When verbally communicating, body language accounts for a large part of the overall meaning. To account for that missing component in writing, we must have proper punctuation.

One important punctuation mark is the comma, which indicates pauses between parts of a sentence. When speaking to someone, you don't just spit out the words as fast as you can. You naturally pause so that the meaning of your words is clear to your listener. Commas perform this function in writing.

The Comma Splice

Unfortunately, since commas are commonplace, they are also used incorrectly quite often. One such error is called a comma splice, which occurs when a comma is incorrectly inserted between two independent clauses. Remember, an independent clause is one that has a subject and predicate and can stand alone as a full sentence. Look at the following examples:

  • Nocturnal-Flying-Rodent Man was the savior of the city.
  • He defeated the evil Puzzler.

These are two full sentences, each with a subject and a predicate. If we were to connect these independent clauses without any punctuation, it would be a run-on sentence.

  • Nocturnal-Flying-Rodent Man was the savior of the city he defeated the evil Puzzler.

Many will notice they need punctuation to separate the two clauses, but most will simply insert a comma and be done with it. This is a comma splice.

  • Nocturnal-Flying-Rodent Man was the savior of the city, he defeated the evil Puzzler.

The comma alone cannot fix the run-on sentence. This example is wrong! Let's look at the three methods you can use to correct a comma splice.

The Period New Sentence Fix

The first method is also the simplest. If you have two independent clauses that can stand alone, why not separate them completely? Do so by inserting a period, which indicates the end of a sentence, and then, capitalize the first word to begin a second sentence.

  • Nocturnal-Flying-Rodent Man was the savior of the city. He defeated the evil Puzzler.

This method clearly shows two independent clauses with proper punctuation.

The Semicolon Fix

Perhaps you realize your comma splice error, but you still want to show that the two clauses are connected. There is punctuation that can indicate a close relationship. The semicolon is used to separate independent clauses, while at the same time, showing they are related. To use a semicolon, insert it where the period would be, but do not capitalize the second clause.

  • Nocturnal-Flying-Rodent Man was the savior of the city; he defeated the evil Puzzler.

Especially since we have the pronoun 'he,' which refers to the 'Nocturnal-Flying-Rodent Man,' using the semicolon keeps the close relationship between the two clauses intact.

The Conjunctions and Subordinators Fix

The final method for fixing comma splices actually does involve the comma! However, the comma cannot be inserted alone. You must insert a comma and a conjunction, which is a connecting word. 'And,' 'but,' 'or,' and 'so' are all examples of conjunctions. To use this method, insert a comma after the first independent clause with a conjunction immediately following.

  • Nocturnal-Flying-Rodent Man was the savior of the city, and he defeated the evil Puzzler.

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