Rhetoric and Composition/Comma Splice

What is a comma splice?Edit

"Comma splice" is the term commonly used to describe two independent clauses (basically, clauses that express a complete thought and could stand on their own as full sentences) joined by a comma rather than other accepted punctuation approaches, such as a comma with a coordinating conjunction, a period, or a semi-colon. Like the run-on sentence, they may have a coordinating conjunction (and, or, nor, but, for, so yet) between them but not the comma that needs to accompany the coordinating conjunction when separating two independent clauses.

Examples of comma spliced sentencesEdit

  • Every day, millions of children go to daycare with millions of other kids, there is no guarantee that none of them are harboring infectious conditions.
  • Many daycares have strict rules about sick children needing to stay away until they are no longer infectious, enforcing those rules can be very difficult.
  • Daycare providers often undergo extreme pressure to accept a sick child "just this once," the parent has no other care options and cannot miss work.

Fixing comma spliced sentencesEdit

Once you find a comma spliced sentence and notice where the two independent clauses are "spliced," you can then decide on how best to separate the clauses:

  • You can make two complete sentences by inserting a period. This is the strongest level of separation.
  • You can use a semicolon between the two clauses if they are of equal importance; this allows your your reader to consider the points together.
  • You can use a semicolon with a transition word to indicate a specific relation between the two clauses;however, use this sparingly.
  • You can use a coordinating conjunction following the comma, and this also will indicate a relationship.
  • Or, you can add a word to one clause to make it dependent.

Examples of fixed comma spliced sentencesEdit

Notice how the sentences above have been punctuated in the following examples.

  • Every day, millions of children go to daycare with millions of other kids. There is no guarantee that none of them are harboring infectious conditions.
  • Many daycares have strict rules about sick children needing to stay away until they are no longer infectious; however, enforcing those rules can be very difficult.
  • Many daycares have strict rules about sick children needing to stay away until they are no longer infectious, but enforcing those rules can be very difficult.
  • Daycare providers often undergo extreme pressure to accept a sick child "just this once" because the parent has no other care options and cannot miss work.

Learn more under "commas with two independent clauses" at Rhetoric and Composition/Commas.

Last modified on 10 March 2014, at 04:13