Punctuation Errors: The Comma Splice

By Daniel Scocco

We have already covered the basics of this punctuation mark on the article Introducing the Comma. Basically, commas are used after introductory elements on sentences (e.g., introductory words, phrases,clauses). Commas are also used to separate dependent clauses, like this:

As it was raining, we decided to stay home.

The comma can also be used to separate independent clauses, but the clauses must be joined by a conjunction. If the conjunction is missing, we have what is called the comma splice. Here is an example:

They have a course of economics here, the students like it.

This construction is considered to be grammatically incorrect. There are several methods to fix a comma splice. First of all you can use a period instead of the comma:

They have a course of economics here. The students like it.

Secondly, you can add a co-ordinating conjunction to the second clause:

They have a course of economics here, and the students like it.

The other methods for fixing the comma splice are less intuitive. You can substitute the comma with a semicolon (keep in mind that the semicolon binds two clauses more closely than the period) or you can use a subordinating conjunction that will make the two causes dependent.

They have a course of economics here because the students like it.

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15 Responses to “Punctuation Errors: The Comma Splice”

  • ExMember

    Is that a typo in the last paragraph?

    I think it should read “You can substitute a *period* with a semicolon”.

  • Daniel

    Yeah I got lost in the middle of commas, periods and colons 🙂 –

    You can substitute a comma (from the comma splice) with a semicolon.

  • Zach Everson

    I’m a big fan of doing what Daniel suggested and using semicolons (although I can see how it could be considered pretentious).

  • dawn

    Another vote for semicolons here!

    I love them; they’re both sophisticated and subtle. (But, as Zach pointed out, not stylistically appropriate in all mediums ;))

  • Steve

    Quick question: Is “They have a course of economics here, and the students like it” considered better than “They have a course of economics here and the students like it”?

    I don’t see the reason for the comma in that sentence – can you explain?

  • Gerri

    When I was in school, many years ago, a comma was to be placed before and after Inc. or Ltd. in correspondence. What is the current method of using commas?

    Example: As per our earlier conversation, Bell South, Inc., will not extend the contract.

    Is the above example correct or should the comma after Inc. be omitted?

  • Laura Johnston

    Should the following have a comma?

    As per our conversation, we will be making the following final revision:

  • Nishith

    Can I make this website my home page?

  • Pesi Padshah

    I’m new to this site and am fascinated by it, but I’m not quite sure how it works. I’d like the answer to one of the questions which appears above, namely:

    Steve on September 25th, 2007 9:15 am Quick question: Is “They have a course of economics here, and the students like it” considered better than “They have a course of economics here and the students like it”?

    I don’t see the reason for the comma in that sentence – can you explain?

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  • Patricia

    My grammar is no good at all. This problem blocks me up to move forward on my professional career. I would like to work on a daily basis with this grammar program. There is a website or program I have to register in? and how I will have the answer to my questions? Please advice.

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  • sammer

    i did not understand any thing .

  • Juana Martin

    I want to know if the follow sentence need a comma between candidate and meant:
    It has been reported that the Republican who suggested Eisenhower as a presidential candidate (,)?)meant Milton not Ike.
    I’d like that you answer me
    Thank you

  • ravi bedi

    This little fellow called comma, like a naughty brat, is the most troublesome character I have encountered in the English language.

    I can never master it, and I believe most experts will have differing views about it’s usage.

  • gramma’s kid

    Juana,

    I just stumbled across your query of July 7, ’09. I added [ing] & [s].

    – – – – – – – – – –
    > I want to know if the follow[ing] sentence need[s] a comma between candidate and meant:

    It has been reported that the Republican who suggested Eisenhower > as a presidential candidate (,)?)meant Milton not Ike.
    – – – – – – – – – –

    If I had only comma to use, I’d place it after ‘Milton’. If your comma after candidate is engraved in stone, use a 2nd comma before ‘who’, to set off that clause.

    BTW, I think you might be an ESL student. Congratulatuons on struggling to learn about commas. Too many people insert them incorrectly, omit them, or tie sentences together, forming a comma splice.

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