How to fix a comma splice! Commas subtly influence the structure of a sentence. They provide a break in a sentence and work to make a sentence’s meaning crystal clear. The comma’s gentle disposition lacks the power to join two sentences together. When you mistakenly try to join two independent clauses with a comma you create a comma splice.
What Is a Comma Splice?
A comma splice is a grammatical mistake resulting from incorrect comma usage. Commas cannot take two independent clauses and transform them into a complete thought.
Commas work to protect the integrity of the writer’s message. A comma separates words and phrases. Commas minimize the chance that a reader misconstrues the author’s meaning.
Example of a Comma Splice
I wrote a card, I did not send it.
In the above example, the comma fails to combine the two independent clauses.
Example of a Run-on Sentence
I wrote a card I did not send it.
You can fix the comma splice and the run-on sentence in the same way.
4 Ways to Address a Comma Splice
Choose a Coordinating Conjunction
Coordinating conjunctions are words that connect two independent clauses in a sentence. Nor, but, yet, and, for, or and so represent the seven coordinating conjunctions. These words establish a logical relationship between two independent clauses.
I wrote a card, but I did not send it.
Before you join two independent clauses with coordinating conjunction add a comma. A comma and coordinating conjunction join two independent clauses.
Introduce a Period for a Concise Message
Replace the comma between two independent clauses with a period. A period has the strength to finish off a thought. The period will turn the clauses into two distinct sentences.
I wrote a card. I did not send it.
The resulting two sentences follow the rules of grammar. These short sentences can sound curt. If you do like the flow this fix creates you can always find another way to solve your comma misstep.
A period would work best in a sentence where one of the independent clauses is longer than the other. If the two clauses appear separate but follow logically then consider using a period.
Welcome the Semicolon
People often think that semicolons are harder to wield than periods. Most people receive less tutelage concerning semicolons. This makes people leery of employing a semicolon to solve a comma splice. In response, they rely on other forms of punctuation to communicate.
In grammar as well as in life it is important to expand your comfort zone. With more grammar rules under your belt, you will become a better writer.
I wrote a card; I did not send it.
A semicolon can join two independent clauses. Use a semicolon if two clauses relate or logically connect. If the clauses appear in a logical or timed sequence you will want to use a semicolon.
The Subordinating Conjunction Fix
Subordinating conjunctions are words or phrases that join an independent and dependent clause. These words and phrases announce that key details are being added to the sentence. The details combine with the meat or central idea of the sentence. The subordinating conjunction reveals a relationship based on cause and effect. It can also indicate a time or place shift between the different sections of the sentence.
“Than”, “whether”, “that”, and “after” function as subordinating conjunctions. Phrases like “as much as”, “as soon as”, “as long as”, “by the time”, “now that”, and “rather than” work as subordinating conjunctions. Another subordinating conjunction not listed is although. There are two distinct ways that although can work in a sentence.
- I wrote a card, although I did not send it.
- Although I wrote a card, I did not send it.
The clause followed by the subordinating conjunction becomes stressed. In the first sentence “although” highlights the “I did not send it.” part of the sentence while the second sentence finds “although” stressing the “I wrote a card” part.
Incorrect Comma Splice Solutions
It is crucial to remember that not all conjunctions function the same way. A comma pairs nicely with a coordinating conjunction. In contrast, a comma and a conjunction adverb do not work well together.
Never situate a comma before a conjunctive adverb. The result would negatively affect the grammatical structure of the sentence.
A comma placed before constructive adverb results in a comma splice. It fails to fix the initial problem.
Conjunctive Adverb List
A wide variety of conjunctive adverbs exist. Some are more used than others. The list below illustrates some of the commonly used conjunctive adverbs.
- In addition
- In other words
Incorrect Use of a Conjunctive Adverb
I wrote a card, however I did not send it.
“However” is one conjunctive adverb that is frequently misused. The differences between subordinating conjunctions and conjunctive adverbs become plain when examing grammatical errors. You can use the latter to start an independent clause and the former to join two independent clauses.
If you correctly format a sentence with a conjunctive adverb you can use it to resolve a comma splice. Place a semicolon or period before a conjunctive adverb. Introduce a comma after the conjunctive adverb to properly structure the sentence
Correct Ways to Write a Conjunctive Adverb
- I wrote a card; however, I did not send it.
- I wrote a card. However, I did not send it.
Remember to capitalize “however” after the period. Do not capitalize “however” after the semicolon.
“However” is a formal conjunctive adverb. Overuse of the word “however” makes your writing stiff. Use “however” to emphasize key arguments. or to show a contrast between complex sentences.
Note some language scholars do not like using “however” to introduce a sentence.
Comma Splice | Image
Comma Splices & 4 Easy Ways to Address them