Some people consider English to be the easiest of all the languages to understand. However, others regard it to be amongst the most confusing ones since its grammar talks of several rules. And the most common mistake that people commit is while using the comma. Although it is English’s most commonly used punctuation mark, it is a highly abused and misused one; leaving writers puzzled as to which is the right way to utilize it. The comma splice is one of the common errors that this article deals with. A kind of run-on sentence, a comma splice occurs when two independent clauses are joined by a comma. Luckily, identifying comma splices is easy and rectifying the same is easier, once you have understood the technique. Find out some examples of comma splices and check out how to fix them.
How To Fix A Comma Splice
“I am an English teacher. I have been teaching English for nearly thirty years.” Though these are two independent stand-alone clauses, most writers combine these thoughts into one sentence that looks something like: “I am an English teacher, I have been teaching English for nearly thirty years”. This is an example of comma splice as the writer has combined two independent clauses with a weak comma.
Herein, the sentence can be corrected by adding a comma and a coordinating conjunction, such as and, or, but, for, yet, nor, so, not, and others. As such, the revised sentence will read as “I am an English teacher, and I have been teaching English for nearly thirty years”. Further, since the writer has already mentioned his/her profession in the first clause, he/she need not repeat it in the second clause. Thus, the word English can be deleted from the second phrase. A better revised version of this would look like: “I am an English teacher, and I have been teaching for nearly thirty years”.
Since the two sentences are related and the second follows after the first, a semicolon can be used, in place of a comma, to connect the two independent clauses. In this case, the revised sentence would become “I am an English teacher; I have been teaching for nearly thirty years”. A semicolon speeds up reading and adds crispness to the text.
The best option to fix a comma splice is by separating the two sentences with a full stop. Since the two clauses are independent and follow a logical sequence, a full stop will do the job. The statement would thence become: “I am an English teacher. I have been teaching for nearly thirty years”.
A dash is not used widely in writing, although it works perfectly to connect two related independent clauses. To add on, it displays a sense of drama between the two clauses. “I am an English teacher - I have been teaching for nearly thirty years”. A dash brings in a halt and slows down reading significantly.
Adding a colon is another way to fix a comma splice, though it does not work appropriately always. Only if the second independent clause is a logical elaboration of the first clause, the colon makes an apt punctuation mark. Take this - “I am an English teacher: I have been teaching for nearly thirty years”.
Apart from the conjunctions, there are subordinating conjunctions that create logical sentences by combining two independent clauses. Although the importance of the two clauses seems to be imbalanced, but the end result manages to convey an idea of what the sentence is trying speak. Subordinate conjunctions can be - while, although, because, if, since, unless, whether, when, why, as, before, after, that, and once. In this case, however, a subordinate conjuction cannot be used.
Examples of Comma Splice
- Mary went to bed early, she was tired from her long trip.
- I want to eat out tonight, it has been long since I've enjoyed a steak.
- I completed my essay, I have not submitted it.
- I got up late this morning, I didn't have time for breakfast.
- The sun is high, put on some sun-block.
- Kristy forgot to set her alarm, she woke up forty minutes late.
- Squiggly ran to the forest, Aardvark chased the peeves.
- Jim did not stand up to voice his opinion in class, the professor found that surprising.
- Mix ginger and lime with water, it makes a tasty and refreshing drink.
- We went to the store, we wanted to buy some chips.
With these examples and how to fix them, hope you must have understood about comma splices. The next time you insert a comma, make sure that you aren’t committing a comma splice mistake again.